Because hyperglycemia is a major detrimental factor in the prognosis of acute cardiovascular conditions such as acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke, and because an acute glucose challenge in healthy subjects has been shown to induce oxidative stress in mononuclear cells (MNCs), we have now investigated whether glucose induces inflammatory stress at the cellular and molecular level. Glucose ingestion (75 g in 300 mL water) in healthy human subjects resulted in an increase in intranuclear nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) binding, the reduction of inhibitor kappaB alpha (IkappaBalpha) protein, and an increase in the activity of inhibitor kappaB kinase (IKK) and the expression of IKKalpha and IKKbeta, the enzymes that phosphorylate IkappaBalpha, in MNCs. Glucose intake caused an increase in NF-kappaB binding to NF-kappaB2, NF-kappaB2a, and NF-kappaB3 sequences in the promoter site of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) gene along with an increase in the expression of TNF-alpha messenger RNA in MNCs. Membranous p47(phox) subunit, an index of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH) oxidase expression and activation, also increased after glucose intake. We conclude that glucose intake induces an immediate increase in intranuclear NF-kappaB binding, a fall in IkappaBalpha, an increase in IKKalpha, IKKbeta, IKK activity, and messenger RNA expression of TNF-alpha in MNCs in healthy subjects. These data are consistent with profound acute pro-inflammatory changes in MNCs after glucose intake.