Minocycline, a tetracycline with anti-inflammatory properties, has been reported to down-regulate the activity of microglia, whose activation occurs in inflammatory and degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. In these disorders, a T cell component is also evident, and we have demonstrated previously that the interaction of activated T cells with microglia led to the substantial increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) levels. Here, we report that minocycline decreases TNF-alpha levels produced in human T cell-microglia interaction. This effect is mediated by a direct action of minocycline on the activated T cells and on microglia, which resulted in the decreased ability of T cells to contact microglia. In correspondence, minocycline decreased the expression on T cells of the CD40 ligand (CD40L), a key molecule regulating the contact-mediated interaction of T cells with microglia. These results demonstrate that the mechanism of action of minocycline involves not only microglia but also T cells and their subsequent activation of microglia. The capacity of minocycline to down-regulate CD40L on T cells may provide a new means to target the CD40-CD40L pathway, which regulates several inflammatory processes.