Biomarker quantification in disease tissues from animal models of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can help to provide insights into the mechanisms of action of novel therapeutic agents. In this study we validated the kinetics of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha and IL-6 mRNA and protein expression levels in joints from DBA/1OlaHsd murine collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) and Lewis rat Streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) TaqMan and Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Prednisolone was used as a reference to investigate any correlation between clinical response and cytokine levels at selected time-points. To our knowledge this is the first report showing a close pattern of expression between mRNA and protein for IL-1beta and IL-6, but not for TNF-alpha, in these two models of RA. The kinetics of expression for these biomarkers suggested that the optimal sampling time-points to study the effect of compounds on both inflammation and cytokine levels were day 4 postonset in CIA and day 3 after i.v challenge in SCW-induced arthritis. Prednisolone reduced joint swelling through a mechanism associated with a reduction in IL-1beta and IL-6 protein and mRNA expression levels. At the investigated time points, protein levels for TNF-alpha in arthritic joints were lower than the lower limit of detection of the ELISA, whereas mRNA levels for this cytokine were reliably detected. These observations suggest that RT-PCR TaqMan is a sensitive technique that can be successfully applied to the quantification of mRNA levels in rodent joints from experimental arthritis models providing insights into mechanisms of action of novel anti-inflammatory drugs.