Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a cytoprotective enzyme activated by various phytochemicals and we examined the ability of Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the major constituent of green tea, to upregulate HO-1 expression in endothelial cells (ECs). We demonstrate that EGCG induces HO-1 expression in a concentration- and time-dependent manner. Furthermore, EGCG-mediated HO-1 induction was abrogated in the presence of actinomycin D and cycloheximide, indicating that this upregulation of HO-1 occurred at the transcriptional level. EGCG also upregulates Nrf2 levels in nuclear extracts and increases ARE-luciferase activity. Furthermore, EGCG is the most potent inducer of HO-1 expression of the different green tea constituents that we analyzed, but had no detectable cytotoxic effects over the 25-100 microM dosage range. The inhibition of intracellular ROS production by N-acetylcysteine (NAC), glutathione (GSH), superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and the mitochondrial complex I inhibitor, rotenone, results in a decrease in EGCG-dependent HO-1 expression. In addition, we determined that tyrosine kinase is involved in EGCG induction of HO-1 as this is abrogated by genistein. ECs treated with EGCG exhibit activation of Akt and ERK1/2. In addition, pharmacological inhibitors of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase and MEK1/2, which are upstream of Akt and ERK1/2, respectively, attenuate EGCG-induced HO-1 expression. On the other hand, pretreatment of these cells with EGCG exerts significant cytoprotective effects against H2O2, suggesting that the induction of HO-1 is an important component in the protection against oxidative stress. Hence, EGCG is a novel phytochemical inducer of HO-1 expression and we further identify the principal underlying mechanisms involved in this process.