The trace element zinc affects several aspects of immune function, such as the release of proinflammatory cytokines from monocytes. We investigated the role of cyclic nucleotide signaling in zinc inhibition of LPS-induced TNF-alpha and IL-1beta release from primary human monocytes and the monocytic cell line Mono Mac1. Zinc reversibly inhibited enzyme activity of phosphodiesterase-1 (PDE-1), PDE-3, and PDE-4 in cellular lysate. It additionally reduced mRNA expression of PDE-1C, PDE-4A, and PDE-4B in intact cells. Although these PDE can also hydrolyze cAMP, only the cellular level of cGMP was increased after incubation with zinc, whereas cAMP was found to be even slightly reduced due to inhibition of its synthesis. To investigate whether an increase in cGMP alone is sufficient to inhibit cytokine release, the cGMP analogues 8-bromo-cGMP and dibutyryl cGMP as well as the NO donor S-nitrosocysteine were used. All three treatments inhibited TNF-alpha and IL-1beta release after stimulation with LPS. Inhibition of soluble guanylate cyclase-mediated cGMP synthesis with LY83583 reversed the inhibitory effect of zinc on LPS-induced cytokine release. In conclusion, inhibition of PDE by zinc abrogates the LPS-induced release of TNF-alpha and IL-1beta by increasing intracellular cGMP levels.