We investigated whether Toll-like receptor (TLR) 4 is at work in the human endometrium. The expression of TLR4 mRNA in endometrial epithelial cells (EECs) and stromal cells (ESCs) was detected by RT-PCR and in situ hybridization. Western blotting analysis revealed the TLR4 protein expression in both cell populations. Treatment of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the actions of which are mediated through TLR4, significantly increased IL-8 secretion from cultured ESCs in a dose-dependent fashion. The stimulatory effect of LPS was inhibited by the addition of neutralizing antibodies for TLR4 and CD14. LPS also stimulated nuclear translocation of nuclear factor-kappaB in ESCs, which was also inhibited by these antibodies. On the other hand, LPS did not stimulate IL-8 secretion in cultured EECs. However, LPS stimulated IL-8 secretion from EECs in the presence of soluble CD14. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that CD14 was expressed on the cell surface of ESCs but not EECs. In addition, immunohistochemical analysis showed that CD14 was stained in ESCs but not EECs. Pretreatment of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) enhanced LPS-induced IL-8 secretion from ESCs. IFN-gamma increased the expression of TLR4 mRNA. It also increased the amounts of mRNA for CD14, MD2, and MyD88, which are needed for LPS recognition in concert with TLR4. In summary, we demonstrated that both ESCs and EECs express TLR4 and respond to LPS through TLR4. We further showed that EECs, not ESCs, required soluble CD14 for TLR4 activation. Interestingly, IFN-gamma, an antiinfectious cytokine, was found to activate the TLR4 system in ESCs. Altogether, the results imply that the TLR4 system might represent local immunity in the human endometrium with differential modes of TLR4 actions between ESCs and EECs.