We investigated the immunomodulatory activity of polysaccharide isolated from the root of Acanthopanax koreanum (AK) at the cellular level. AK directly increased B cell proliferation and antibody production, but did not affect the expression of IL-2, IFN-gamma or IL-4 by T cells, or T cell proliferation in vitro. Since AK cannot penetrate cells due to its large molecular mass, B cell activation may be caused by the surface binding of AK to B cell-specific receptors. The role of TLR4 as an AK receptor was shown by the fact that AK activity in B cells from C3H/HeJ mice, which are known to have a defective Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4, was found to be reduced compared with that in control cells from C3H/HeN mice. AK activity was also reduced by antibodies blocking TLR2, TLR4, CD19 or CD79b, but not by an antibody blocking CD38, which suggests AK receptor profiling in B cells. Two main differences between AK and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were observed. First, LPS activity was inhibited by antibodies to either TLR2 or TLR4, but not by antibodies to CD19, CD79b or CD38. Another was that LPS-induced B cell proliferation was inhibited by polymyxin B (PMB), a specific inhibitor of LPS, whereas AK activity was not affected. Taken together, our results demonstrate that AK directly activates B cells, but not T cells, and suggest that AK has a broader receptor profile than LPS in B cells.