High-mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) protein acts as a transcription factor in the nucleus and also as a pro-inflammatory cytokine when released into extracellular fluids. The presence of higher levels of HMGB1 is reported in the gingival crevicular fluid from periodontal patients. Since the proliferation of bacteria within the periodontal pocket is closely involved in the exacerbation of periodontal disease, it is hypothesized that the periodontal pocket causes the release of HMGB1. Immunohistochemical staining of inflamed gingiva revealed that HMGB1 is exclusively dislocated from the nucleus to the cytoplasm in the pocket epithelium, whereas it is mainly present in the nucleus in the gingival epithelium. Butyric acid, an extracellular metabolite from periodontopathic bacteria populating the periodontal pocket, induced the passive release of HMGB1 as a result of eliciting necrosis in the human gingival epithelial cell line. Thus, the periodontal epithelium may provide a unique pathological setting for HMGB1 release by bacterial insult.