Extracellular stimuli signal for activation of the transcription factor NFkappaB, leading to gene expression regulating processes involved in immune responses, inflammation, and cell survival. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) activates NFkappaB via a well-defined kinase pathways involving NFkappaB-inducing kinase (NIK), which activates downstream multisubunit IkappaB kinases (IKK). IKK in turn phosphorylates IkappaB, the central regulator of NFkappaB function. We found that intracellular vitamin C inhibits TNFalpha-induced activation of NFkappaB in human cell lines (HeLa, monocytic U937, myeloid leukemia HL-60, and breast MCF7) and primary endothelial cells (HUVEC) in a dose-dependent manner. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, and most cells accumulate ascorbic acid (AA) intracellularly by transporting the oxidized form of the vitamin, dehydroascorbic acid (DHA). Because ascorbic acid is a strong pro-oxidant in the presence of transition metals in vitro, we loaded cells with vitamin C by incubating them with DHA. Vitamin C-loaded cells showed significantly decreased TNFalpha-induced nuclear translocation of NFkappaB, NFkappaB-dependent reporter transcription, and IkappaBalpha phosphorylation. Our data point to a mechanism of vitamin C suppression of NFkappaB activation by inhibiting TNFalpha-induced activation of NIK and IKKbeta kinases independent of p38 MAP kinase. These results suggest that intracellular vitamin C can influence inflammatory, neoplastic, and apoptotic processes via inhibition of NFkappaB activation.