Inflammation is a complex phenomenon involving multiple cellular and molecular interactions which must be tightly regulated. Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX) is the key enzyme that catalyzes the two sequential steps in the biosynthesis of PGs from arachidonic acid. The inducible isoform of COX, namely COX-2, plays a critical role in the inflammatory response and its over-expression has been associated with several pathologies including neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Melatonin is the main product of the pineal gland with well documented antioxidant and immuno-modulatory effects. Since the action of the indole on COX-2 has not been previously described, the goal of the present report was to test the effect of melatonin on the activities of COX-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), using lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated RAW 264.7 macrophages as a model. Melatonin and its metabolites, N1-acetyl-N2-formyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AFMK) and N1-acetyl-5-methoxykynuramine (AMK), prevented COX-2 activation induced by LPS, without affecting COX-1 protein levels. The structurally related compound 6-methoxy-melatonin only partially prevented the increase in COX-2 protein levels induced by the toxin. Likewise melatonin prevented iNOS activation and reduced the concentration of products from both enzymes, PGE(2) and nitric oxide. Another endogenous antioxidant like N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) did not reduced COX-2 significantly. The current finding corroborates a role of melatonin as an anti-inflammatory agent and, for the first time, COX-2 and iNOS as molecular targets for either melatonin or its metabolites AFMK and AMK. These anti-inflammatory actions seem not to be exclusively mediated by the free radical scavenging properties of melatonin. As a consequence, the present work suggests these substances as a new class of potential anti-inflammatory agents without the classical side effects due to COX-1 inhibition.