Abstract Background Nowadays, treatments for cholestasis remain largely nonspecific and often ineffective. Recent studies showed that inflammatory injuries and oxidative stress occur in the liver with cholestasis. In this study, we would use corilagin to treat the animal model of acute cholestasis in order to define the activity to interfere with inflammation-related and oxidative stress pathway in cholestatic pathogenesis. Methods Rats were administrated with alpha-naphthylisothiocyanate to establish model of cholestasis and divided into corilagin, ursodeoxycholic acid, dexamethasone, model and normal groups with treatment of related agent. At 24h, 48h and 72h time points after administration, living condition, serum markers of liver damage, pathological changes of hepatic tissue, nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB, myeloperoxidase (MPO), malondialdehyde (MDA), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and nitric oxide (NO) were examined and observed. Results Compared to model group, corilagin had remarkable effect on living condition, pathological manifestation of liver tissue, total bilirubin, direct bilirubin, (P<0.01), but no effect on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). With corilagin intervention, levels of MPO, MDA and translocation of NF-κB were notably decreased, and levels of SOD and NO were markedly increased (P<0.05 or P<0.01). Conclusions It is shown that corilagin is a potential component to relieve cholestasis through inflammation-related and oxidation-related pathway.