Diallyl trisulfide (DATS), diallyl sulfide (DAS), and diallyl disulfide (DADS) are the three major organosulfur compounds (OSCs) in garlic oil. In contrast to DADS and DATS, evidence of an anti-inflammatory effect of DATS is limited. In this study compares the efficacy of DATS with those of DAS and DADS on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression and nitric oxide (NO) production in RAW 264.7 macrophages. The NO production in LPS-activated RAW 264.7 macrophages was suppressed by both DADS and DATS in a dose-dependent manner. At 100 muM, the nitrite levels of DADS- and DATS-treated cells were 57 and 34%, respectively, of cells treated with LPS alone. DAS, however, had no influence on NO production even at a concentration of 1 mM. Western blot and Northern blot assays showed that DADS and DATS but not DAS dose-dependently suppressed LPS-induced iNOS protein and mRNA expression in a pattern similar to that noted for NO production. LPS-induced cellular peroxide production was significantly inhibited by DADS and DATS (P < 0.05) but not by DAS. Electrophoresis mobility shift assays further indicated that DADS and DATS effectively inhibited the activation of NF-kappaB induced by LPS. Taken together, these results indicate that the differential efficacy of three major OSCs of garlic oil on suppression of iNOS expression and NO production is related to the number of sulfur atoms and is in the order DATS > DADS > DAS. The inhibitory effect of DATS on LPS-induced iNOS expression is likely attributed to its antioxidant potential to inhibit NF-kappaB activation.