Excessive production of airway mucus is a characteristic feature of many chronic inflammatory lung diseases. Although current pharmacological approaches to excessive mucus production are limited, glucocorticoids appear to be the most effective among a few useful drugs. The exact evidence for the effectiveness of glucocorticoids on mucus production has not been fully elucidated to date. The purpose of this study is to clarify the effect of dexamethasone on mucus production and mucin gene expression in a human pulmonary mucoepidermoid carcinoma cell line (NCI-H292). NCI-H292 cells produced hyaluronidase-resistant high-molecular-weight glycoconjugates (HMWG), which elute in the void volume on Sepharose CL-4B column chromatography. Dexamethasone significantly suppressed the basal production of [3H]glucosamine-or [3H]serine-labeled HMWG in NCI-H292 cells. In Northern blot analysis, dexamethasone attenuated steady-state mRNA levels of MUC-2 and MUC-5AC mucin genes. These data indicate that dexamethasone suppresses the basal production of HMWG and decreases steady-state mRNA levels of mucin genes in airway mucus-producing cancer cells.