Pro-inflammatory cytokines play a key role in many models of hepatic damage. In addition, asparagine (Asn) plays an important role in immune function. We aimed to investigate whether Asn could attenuate lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced liver damage. Forty-eight castrated barrows were allotted to four groups including: (1) non-challenged control; (2) LPS-challenged control; (3) LPS+0·5 % Asn; and (4) LPS+1·0 % Asn. After 19 d feeding with control, 0·5 or 1·0 % Asn diets, pigs were injected with LPS or saline. Blood and liver samples were obtained at 4 h (early stage) and 24 h (late stage) post-injection. Asn alleviated liver injury, indicated by reduced serum aspartate aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase activities linearly and quadratically; it increased claudin-1 protein expression linearly and quadratically at 24 h, and less severe liver morphological impairment at 4 or 24 h. In addition, Asn decreased mRNA expression of TNF-α and heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) linearly and quadratically at 4 h; it increased TNF-α mRNA expression, and HSP70 protein expression linearly and quadratically at 24 h. Moreover, Asn increased inducible NO synthase activity linearly and quadratically. Finally, Asn down-regulated the mRNA expression of Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) signalling molecules (TLR4, IL-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1), TNF-α receptor-associated factor 6), nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain protein (NOD) signalling molecules (NOD1, NOD2 and their adaptor molecule receptor-interacting serine/threonine-protein kinase 2 (RIPK2)), and NF-κB p65 linearly or quadratically at 4 h. Oppositely, Asn up-regulated mRNA expressions of TLR4 and NOD signalling molecules (TLR4, myeloid differentiation factor 88, IRAK1, NOD2 and RIPK2), and their negative regulators (radioprotective 105, single Ig IL-1R-related molecule, Erbb2 interacting protein and centaurin β1) linearly or quadratically at 24 h. These results indicate that, in early and late stages of LPS challenge, Asn improves liver integrity and exerts different regulatory effects on mRNA expression of TLR4 and NOD signalling molecules.