Recent studies have identified osteoprotegerin ligand (OPG-L) as the essential factor required for osteoclastogenesis, and that the effects are prevented by its soluble receptor, osteoprotegerin (OPG). However, there are limited data at present on the regulation of OPG-L expression in human osteoblastic cells by other cytokines. Because interleukin (IL)-1beta, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, and IL-6 all increase osteoclastogenesis, we assessed whether OPG-L mRNA steady-state levels were regulated by these cytokines in human osteoblastic cells. By northern analysis, IL-1beta (5 nmol/L) and TNF-alpha (9 nmol/L) increased OPG-L mRNA steady-state levels by up to two- to three-fold in normal marrow stromal cells (MS), an immortalized marrow stromal cell line (hMS), and the osteosarcoma cell line, MG-63, whereas IL-6 (2 nmol/L, with or without its soluble receptor) had no effect on OPG-L mRNA levels in any of these cells. IL-1beta and TNF-alpha increased OPG-L mRNA steady-state levels in the normal MS cells and the hMS cell line in a time- and dose-dependent fashion by up to 4.1-fold and up to 2.6-fold, respectively. Our data are thus consistent with the hypothesis that the proinflammatory and bone-resorbing cytokines, IL-1beta and TNF-alpha, but not IL-6, may stimulate osteoclastogenesis by inducing the expression of OPG-L.