Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a bacterial cell component that plays multifunctional roles in inflammatory reactions. LPS from various periodontal pathogens is supposed to be a major virulence factor of periodontal diseases. In the present study, we demonstrated that LPS from periodontopathic bacterium Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans Y4 (Y4 LPS) stimulated osteoclast formation in mouse bone marrow culture systems. Addition of anti-interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha) antibody or indomethacin in the marrow cultures resulted in the suppression of osteoclast differentiation. Quantitative analyses revealed that Y4 LPS stimulated the production of IL-1 alpha and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by bone marrow cells. Furthermore, an immunoblot analysis showed that Y4 LPS stimulated bone marrow cells to upregulate the expression of cyclooxygenase-2, a rate-limiting enzyme for the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostanoids. These findings suggest that both IL-1 alpha and PGE2 are involved in the LPS-mediated osteoclast differentiation. In addition, we found that Y4 LPS supported the survival of osteoclasts. Addition of anti-IL-1 alpha antibody in the osteoclast culture resulted in a reduction of osteoclast survival. Indomethacin, however, showed no effect on osteoclast survival. These findings suggest that the increased PGE2 and IL-1 alpha synthesis by bone marrow cells may play an important role in the differentiation and survival of osteoclasts induced by A. actinomycetemcomitans LPS.