In this study, the anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids isolated from the roots of Glycyrrhiza uralensis (Leguminosae), namely, isoliquiritin (the glycoside of isoliquirigenin) and isoliquiritigenin (the aglycone of isoliquiritin) were evaluated on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-treated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Isoliquiritigenin (ILG) more potently inhibited LPS-induced nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) production than isoliquiritin (ILT). Consistent with these findings, ILG reduced the LPS-induced expressions of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) at the protein and mRNA levels in a concentration-dependent manner, as determined by Western blotting and RT-PCR, respectively. In addition, the release of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6), and the mRNA expression levels of these cytokines were reduced by ILG in a dose-dependent manner. Moreover, ILG attenuated the LPS-induced DNA binding activity and the transcription activity of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB), and this was associated with a decrease in inhibitory kappa B-alpha (IkappaB-alpha) phosphorylation and in the subsequent blocking of p65 and p50 protein translocations to the nucleus. Furthermore, ILG suppressed the phosphorylations of IkappaB kinase (IKK), ERK1/2, and p38, whereas the phosphorylation of JNK1/2 was unaffected. These results suggest that the anti-inflammatory properties of ILG are caused by iNOS, COX-2, TNF-alpha, and IL-6 down-regulation due to NF-kappaB inhibition via the suppression of IKK, ERK1/2 and p38 phosphorylation in RAW 264.7 cells.