Two isoforms of cyclooxygenase (COX) have been identified in eukaryotic cells: a constitutively expressed COX-1 and mitogen-inducible COX-2, which is selectively expressed in response to various inflammatory stimuli. Thus, COX-2 instead of COX-1 is implicated to produce prostanoids mediating inflammatory responses. Major efforts have been focused on identifying nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) which can selectively inhibit the enzyme activity of COX-2. Such NSAIDS would be more desirable anti-inflammatory agents in comparison to NSAIDS which inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2. Other than glucocorticoids, pharmacological agents which can selectively suppress the expression of COX-2 without affecting that of COX-1 have not been identified. We report here that radicicol, a fungal antibiotic, is a potent protein tyrosine kinase inhibitor, and that it inhibits the expression of COX-2 without affecting COX-1 expression in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated macrophages with the IC50 value of 27 nM. Radicicol inhibited tyrosine phosphorylation of p53/56lyn, a Src family tyrosine kinase and one of the major tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins in LPS-stimulated macrophages. Radicicol also inhibited COX-2 expression in vivo in glomeruli of rats with experimental glomerulonephritis induced by the anti-glomerular basement membrane antibodies, in which COX-2 expression is known to be enhanced. The enzyme activity of COX-1 or COX-2 was not affected by radicicol in macrophages. Radiciciol also suppressed the COX-2 expression induced by IL-1 beta in rat smooth muscle cells. Other protein tyrosine kinase inhibitors suppressed the LPS-induced COX-2 expression in macrophages but at much higher concentrations than needed for radicicol. Radicicol did not inhibit the COX-2 expression induced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate in macrophages. These results suggest that the activation of tyrosine-specific protein kinases is the proximal obligatory step in the LPS-induced signal transduction pathway leading to the induction of COX-2 expression in macrophages. The magnitude of the inhibition of COX-2 protein synthesis by radicicol was much greater than that of the steady state levels of COX-2 mRNA. These results suggest that radicicol inhibits COX-2 expression mainly at post-transcriptional steps.