We previously demonstrated that cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR) elicits Ca2+ release in airway smooth muscle (ASM) cells through ryanodine receptor channels. CD38 is a cell surface protein that catalyzes the synthesis and degradation of cADPR. In inflammatory diseases such as asthma, augmented Ca2+ responses and Ca2+ sensitivity contribute to increased ASM contractility in response to agonists. In this study, we investigated the regulation of CD38 expression and the role of cADPR-mediated Ca2+ release in airway inflammation. Human ASM cells in culture between the second and fifth passages were exposed to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin 1beta, or interferon gamma, or bovine serum albumin (controls). CD38 expression was measured by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), real-time PCR, and Western blot analysis, and ADP-ribosyl cyclase activity was assayed with nicotinamide guanine dinucleotide as the substrate. Ca2+ responses to acetylcholine, bradykinin, and thrombin were measured in fura-2AM-loaded cells by fluorescence microscopy. Cytokines caused significant augmentation of CD38 expression, ADP-ribosyl cyclase activity, and Ca2+ responses to the agonists, compared with the control. TNF-alpha effects were greater than those of the other two cytokines. The cADPR antagonist 8-bromo-cADPR attenuated the Ca2+ responses to the agonists in control and cytokine-treated cells, with the magnitude of inhibition correlating with the level of CD38. This study provides the first demonstration of a role for CD38-cADPR signaling in a model of inflammatory airway disease.