Compounds that enhance either the function or biosynthetic processing of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) Cl(-) channel may be of value in developing new treatments for cystic fibrosis (CF). Previous studies suggested that the herbal extract curcumin might affect the processing of a common CF mutant, CFTR-DeltaF508. Here, we tested the hypothesis that curcumin influences channel function. Curcumin increased CFTR channel activity in excised, inside-out membrane patches by reducing channel closed time and prolonging the time channels remained open. Stimulation was dose-dependent, reversible, and greater than that observed with genistein, another compound that stimulates CFTR. Curcumin-dependent stimulation required phosphorylated channels and the presence of ATP. We found that curcumin increased the activity of both wild-type and DeltaF508 channels. Adding curcumin also increased Cl(-) transport in differentiated non-CF airway epithelia but not in CF epithelia. These results suggest that curcumin may directly stimulate CFTR Cl(-) channels.