Renal inflammation is the main pathological change in many acute and chronic kidney diseases. Curcumin, a yellow pigment present in the rhizome of turmeric (Curcuma longa L. Zingiberaceae), was found to be a potential anti-inflammatory agent. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of curcumin on the inflammation of mice kidney and cultured renal tubular epithelial cells (HK-2 cells) induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and to explore the mechanism. Curcumin was injected intraperitoneally before LPS administration. Renal inflammation was assessed by evaluating monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) expression and macrophage infiltration in renal tissue using immunohistochemical methods, and also by measuring renal MCP-1 mRNA level using Real-Time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). HK-2 cells were cultured to investigate the in vitro effect of curcumin against LPS-induced renal inflammation. The expression of MCP-1 and interleukin-8 (IL-8) mRNA was measured by Real-Time PCR. The expression of MCP-1 and IL-8 protein in supernatant was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The activity of nuclear factor (NF)-κB was detected by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA). The results demonstrated that curcumin could inhibit LPS-induced renal MCP-1 mRNA expression. Curcumin also significantly inhibited the expression of MCP-1 and IL-2 mRNA in HK-2 cells, and partially inhibited the secretion of MCP-1 and IL-8. Furthermore, curcumin was found to inhibit the DNA-binding activity of NF-κB. The present study demonstrated that curcumin has a protective effect on LPS-induced experimental renal inflammation, and this effect might be attributed to its inhibitory effects on MCP-1 mRNA expression and DNA-binding activity of NF-κB. Hence, curcumin might be potentially useful in some kidney diseases by preventing renal inflammation.