The fruits of Evodia rutaecarpa Benth (Rutaceae) has long been used for inflammatory disorders and some anti-inflammatory actions of its constituents such as dehydroevodiamine, evodiamine and rutaecarpine were previously reported. Since the pharmacological data is not sufficient to clearly establish the scientific rationale of anti-inflammatory medicinal use of this plant material and the search for its active principles is limited so far, three major constituents (evodiamine, rutaecarpine, goshuyuamide II) were evaluated for their anti-inflammatory cellular action mechanisms in the present study. From the results, evodiamine and rutaecarpine were found to strongly inhibit prostaglandin E2 synthesis from lipopolysaccharide-treated RAW 264.7 cells at 1-10 microM. Evodiamine inhibited cyclooxygenase-2 induction and NF-kappaB activation, while rutaecarpine did not. On the other hand, goshuyuamide II inhibited 5-lipoxygenase from RBL-1 cells (IC50 = 6.6 microM), resulting in the reduced synthesis of leukotrienes. However, these three compounds were not inhibitory against inducible nitric oxide synthase-mediated nitric oxide production from RAW cells up to 50 micorM. These pharmacological properties may provide the additional scientific rationale for anti-inflammatory use of the fruits of E. rutaecarpa.