Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by several Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Byssachlamys species growing on food products. In this study, we investigated the effects of patulin on the thymus of growing male rats aged five to six weeks. The rats were receiving it orally at a dose of 0.1 mg kg(-1) bw a day for either 60 or 90 days. At the end of the experiment, the thymus was examined for histopathology by light microscopy and for epidermal growth factor (EGF) and its receptor (EGFR) by immunolocalisation. For morphometry we used the Bs200prop program to analyse images obtained with the Olympus BX51 light microscope. Cell ultrastructure was studied by electron microscopy. In rats treated with patulin, the thymus showed haemorrhage, plasma cell hyperplasia, a dilation and fibrosis in the cortex, enlarged interstitial tissue between the thymic lobules, enlarged fat tissue, thinning of the cortex, and blurring of the cortico-medullary demarcation. Electron microscopy showed signs of cell destruction, abnormalities of the nucleus and organelles, and loss of mitochondrial cristae. However, no differences were observed in thymus EGF and EGFR immunoreactivity between treated and control rats.