Translation control of proinflammatory genes has a crucial role in regulating the inflammatory response and preventing chronic inflammation, including a transition to cancer. The proinflammatory tumor suppressor protein programmed cell death 4 (PDCD4) is important for maintaining the balance between inflammation and tumorigenesis. PDCD4 messenger RNA translation is inhibited by the oncogenic microRNA, miR-21. AU-rich element-binding protein HuR was found to interact with the PDCD4 3'-untranslated region (UTR) and prevent miR-21-mediated repression of PDCD4 translation. Cells stably expressing miR-21 showed higher proliferation and reduced apoptosis, which was reversed by HuR expression. Inflammatory stimulus caused nuclear-cytoplasmic relocalization of HuR, reversing the translation repression of PDCD4. Unprecedentedly, HuR was also found to bind to miR-21 directly, preventing its interaction with the PDCD4 3'-UTR, thereby preventing the translation repression of PDCD4. This suggests that HuR might act as a 'miRNA sponge' to regulate miRNA-mediated translation regulation under conditions of stress-induced nuclear-cytoplasmic translocation of HuR, which would allow fine-tuned gene expression in complex regulatory environments.