Chemotactic cytokines or chemokines play an important role in the regulation of myelopoiesis. Since the production of chemokines and colony stimulating factors (CSFs) by bone marrow stromal cells requires inflammatory conditions, we investigated the effect of curcumin, an agent with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities, on the expression of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1 or MCP-1/JE) and interferon inducible protein-10kD (IP-10) in mouse bone marrow stromal cell line +/+-1.LDA11. Both chemokines are readily expressed in stromal cells after stimulation with pro-inflammatory interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Curcumin attenuates the levels of MCP-1/JE and IP-10 mRNA expression by all of these stimulatory agents. A detailed analysis of the regulatory effects of curcumin on chemokine expression by IL-1alpha was performed. Curcumin inhibits both chemokine mRNAs in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The suppressive effect of curcumin on both mRNAs is reversible with complete recovery from suppression within 24 hours after removal of curcumin. The suppression of mRNA by curcumin is dependent on de novo synthesis of an intermediary protein(s), since suppression is abrogated by concomitant treatment with cycloheximide (CHX). Destabilization of mRNA transcripts is not the mechanism by which curcumin lowers the levels of mRNA; however, transcripts formed in the presence of curcumin are more stable, as indicated by their slower degradation kinetics. Run-on transcriptional assays demonstrate that curcumin inhibits the transcriptional activity of both genes. Finally, the attenuation of chemokine gene expression is associated with decreased production of chemotactic activity. Together, these findings indicate that while curcumin may post-transcriptionally stabilize mRNA transcripts formed in its presence, the overall reduction in mRNA levels by curcumin is mediated by inhibition of the transcription of chemokine genes.