A new mutant causing hereditary hepatitis associated with severe jaundice has been discovered in the LEC strain of rats. Hepatitis appears suddenly in adult rats three to four months after birth. The clinical signs of hepatitis are characterized by severe jaundice, subcutaneous bleeding, oliguria, and loss of body weight. The affected rats showed a high lethality and histological changes of the liver with focal necrosis of enlarged hepatocytes without inflammatory cell response. Genetic tests indicate that at least a single autosomal recessive gene is responsible for the major cause of hepatitis. Furthermore, liver cancer appears in long survived rats after recovery from jaundice as well as a few asymptomatic rats without jaundice. The LEC rats thus provide an animal model useful for the basic and clinical studies of hepatitis and liver cancer, including their pathogenesis, prevention, and treatment.