Local CNS inflammation takes place in many neurological disorders and is important for autoimmune neuroinflammation. Microglial activation is strain-dependent in rats and differential MHC class II expression is influenced by variations in the Mhc2ta gene. Despite sharing Mhc2ta and MHC class II alleles, BN and LEW.1N rats differ in MHC class II expression after ventral root avulsion (VRA). We studied MHC class II expression and glial activation markers in BN rats after VRA. Our results demonstrate that MHC class II expression originates from a subpopulation of IBA1(+), ED1(-), and ED2(-) microglia. We subsequently performed a genome-wide linkage scan in an F2(BNxLEW.1N) population, to investigate gene regions regulating this inflammatory response. Alongside MHC class II, we studied the expression of MHC class I, co-stimulatory molecules, complement components, microglial markers and Il1b. MHC class II and other transcripts were commonly regulated by gene regions on chromosomes 1 and 7. Furthermore, a common region on chromosome 10 regulated expression of complement and co-stimulatory molecules, while a region on chromosome 11 regulated MHC class I. We also detected epistatic interactions in the regulation of the inflammatory process. These results reveal the complex regulation of CNS inflammation by several gene regions, which may have relevance for disease.