Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) binds to its receptor (TNFR1) and activates both death- and inflammation/survival-related signalling pathways. The inflammation and survival-related signalling cascade results in the activation of the transcription factor, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappa B) and requires recruitment of receptor-interacting protein (RIP) to TNFR1. The indispensable role of RIP in TNF-induced NF-kappa B activation has been demonstrated in RIP(-/-) mice and in cell lines derived from such mice. In the present study, we show that the TNF-alpha-induced accumulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha) protein in normoxic cells is RIP-dependent. Exposing fibroblasts derived from RIP(-/-) mice to either cobalt or PMA resulted in an equivalent HIF-1 alpha induction to that seen in RIP(+/+) fibroblasts. In contrast, RIP(-/-) cells were unable to induce HIF-1 alpha in response to TNF-alpha. Further, transient transfection of NIH 3T3 cells with an NF-kappa B super-repressor plasmid (an inhibitor of NF-kappa B activation) also prevented HIF-1 alpha induction by TNF-alpha. Surprisingly, although HIF-1 alpha mRNA levels remained unchanged after induction by TNF, induction of HIF-1 alpha protein by the cytokine was completely blocked by pretreatment with the transcription inhibitors actinomycin D and 5,6-dichlorobenzimidazole riboside. Finally, TNF failed to induce both HIF-1 alpha, made resistant to von Hippel-Lindau (VHL), and wild-type HIF-1 alpha transfected into VHL(-/-) cells. These results indicate that HIF-1 alpha induction by TNF-alpha in normoxic cells is mediated by protein stabilization but is nonetheless uniquely dependent on NF-kappa B-driven transcription. Thus the results describe a novel mechanism of HIF-1 alpha up-regulation and they identify HIF-1 alpha as a unique component of the NF-kappa B-mediated inflammatory/survival response.