Triptolide, a major active component extracted from the root of Tripterygium wilfordii Hook f, has been shown to possess potent immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties. In the present report, we reported that triptolide increased the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide (NO) and induced apoptosis of RAW 264.7 cells in a dose-dependent manner (5-25 ng/ml). The antioxidant, reduced glutathione (GSH), significantly inhibited triptolide-induced apoptosis and inhibited the degradation of Bcl-2 protein, disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, release of cytochrome c from mitochondria into the cytosol, activation of caspase-3, and cleavage of poly-(ADP-ribose)-polymerase. The inducible nitric oxide synthase-specific inhibitor 1400w blocked triptolide-induced apoptosis, but did not alter mitochondria disruption and caspase-3 activation. These results, for the first time, implicated that the increased endogenous ROS and NO co-mediated triptolide-induced apoptosis in macrophages. ROS initiated triptolide-induced apoptosis by the mitochondria signal pathway, while the apoptotic cell death mediated by NO was not via mitochondria collapse and caspase-3 activation. In addition, combining mathematical calculation and computer simulation based on our conventional experimental results, we set and validated the apoptotic model and provided more dynamic processes of triptolide-induced apoptotic cascade in macrophages.