Monocytes and macrophages provide key targets for the action of novel anti-inflammatory therapeutics targeted at inhibition of PDE4 cAMP-specific phosphodiesterases. PDE4 enzymes provide the dominant cAMP phosphodiesterase activity in U937 human monocytic cells. Differentiation of U937 monocytic cells to a macrophage-like phenotype causes a marked reduction in total cellular PDE4 activity. Monocytic U937 cells express the long PDE4A4, PDE4D5 and PDE4D3 isoforms plus the short PDE4B2 isoform. Differentiation of U937 cells to a macrophage-like phenotype causes a marked downregulation of PDE4D3 and PDE4D5, elicits a marked upregulation of PDE4B2 and induces the novel PDE4A10 long isoform. Comparable patterns are found in human peripheral blood monocytes and macrophages differentiated from them. Immunopurification of PDE4 subfamilies identifies long PDE4D isoforms as providing the major PDE4 activity in U937 monocytic cells. In U937 macrophage-like cells, the activity of the short PDE4B2 isoform predominates. No indication of either the expression or induction of PDE4C was evident. Activation of ERK exerts an inhibitory effect on total PDE4 activity in monocytic U937 cells, where the activity of long PDE4 isoforms predominates. The effect of ERK activation is switched to one of overall stimulation of total PDE4 activity in macrophage U937 cells, where the activity of the short PDE4B2 isoform predominates.10 The profound differentiation-induced changes in PDE4 isoform profile identified here suggests that the development of inhibitors specific for particular PDE4 isoforms may allow for selective effects on monocytes and macrophages to be achieved.