Leukocyte adhesion and transmigration through the endothelial cell (EC) layer plays a crucial role in inflammation. IL-1 alpha and TNF alpha increase EC-adhesiveness for leukocytes by stimulating surface expression of ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1, CD54), VCAM-1 (vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, CD106) and E-selectin (CD62E). In this study, the effects of ibuprofen on IL-1 alpha and TNF alpha-induced expression of ICAM-1, VCAM-1 and E-selectin on cultured human umbilical vein EC (HUVEC) were analyzed. Exposure to IL-1 alpha or TNF alpha resulted in an increased expression of VCAM-1, ICAM-1, and E-selectin. Ibuprofen was identified as a potent inhibitor of IL-1 alpha and TNF alpha-induced surface expression of VCAM-1 and a less potent inhibitor of pyrogen-induced expression of ICAM-1, whereas no effect on E-selectin was found. The effects of ibuprofen on VCAM-1 expression were dose-dependent (IC50 [IL-1 alpha]: 0.5 mM; IC50 [TNF alpha]: 0.5 mM) and time-dependent with maximum responses observed after 18 h. Moreover, ibuprofen abrogated pyrogen-dependent adhesion of leukocytes to HUVEC. Ibuprofen also inhibited VCAM-1 mRNA expression in pyrogen activated EC. VCAM-1-downregulation on EC by ibuprofen may contribute to the anti-inflammatory actions of the drug.