Panax ginseng is a widely used herbal medicine in East Asia and is reported to have a variety of pharmacological effects against cardiovascular diseases and cancers. Here we show a unique effect of ginsenoside Rd (Rd) on cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression in RAW264.7 macrophages. Rd (100 microg/ml), but not other ginsenosides induced COX-2 and increased prostaglandin E(2) production. Gel shift and Western blot analyses using nuclear fractions revealed that Rd increased both the DNA binding of and the nuclear levels of CCAAT/enhancer binding protein (C/EBP)alpha/beta and cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB), but not of p65, in RAW264.7 cells. Moreover, Rd increased the luciferase reporter gene activity in cells transfected with a 574-bp mouse COX-2 promoter construct. Site-specific mutation analyses confirmed that Rd-mediated transcriptional activation of COX-2 gene was regulated by C/EBP and CREB. These results provide evidence that Rd activated C/EBP and CREB, and that the activation of C/EBP and CREB appears to be essential for induction of COX-2 in RAW264.7 cells.