Flavonoids, natural compounds widely distributed in the plant kingdom, are reported to affect the inflammatory process and to possess anti-inflammatory as well as immunomodulatory activity in-vitro and in-vivo. Since nitric oxide (NO) produced by inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) is one of the inflammatory mediators, the effects of the ethanol/water (1:1) extract of the leaves of Apium graveolens var. dulce (celery) on iNOS expression and NO production in the J774.A1 macrophage cell line stimulated for 24 h with Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were evaluated. The extract of A. graveolens var. dulce contained apiin as the major constituent (1.12%, w/w, of the extract). The extract and apiin showed significant inhibitory activity on nitrite (NO) production in-vitro (IC50 0.073 and 0.08 mg mL(-1) for the extract and apiin, respectively) and iNOS expression (IC50 0.095 and 0.049 mg mL(-1) for the extract and apiin, respectively) in LPS-activated J774.A1 cells. The croton-oil ear test on mice showed that the extract exerted anti-inflammatory activity in-vivo (ID50 730 microg cm(-2)), with a potency seven-times lower than that of indometacin (ID50 93 microg cm(-2)), the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used as reference. Our results clearly indicated the inhibitory activity of the extract and apiin in-vitro on iNOS expression and nitrite production when added before LPS stimulation in the medium of J774.A1 cells. The anti-inflammatory properties of the extract demonstrated in-vivo might have been due to reduction of iNOS enzyme expression.