2-Methoxyestradiol (2MEO) is an endogenous metabolite of 17β-estradiol that interacts with estrogen receptors and microtubules. It has acute anti-inflammatory activity in animal models that is not attributable to known antiproliferative or antiangiogenic actions. Because macrophages are central to the innate inflammatory response, we examined whether suppression of macrophage activation by 2MEO could account for some of its anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammatory mediator production stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon-γ in the J774 murine macrophage cell line or human monocytes was measured after treatment with 2MEO or the anti-inflammatory agent dexamethasone. The effect of these agents on LPS-induced acute lung inflammation in mice was also examined. 2MEO suppressed J774 macrophage interleukin-6 and prostaglandin E₂ production (by 30 and 47%, respectively, at 10 μM) and human monocyte tumor necrosis factor-α production (by 60% at 3 μM). Estradiol had no effect on J774 macrophage activation, nor did the estrogen receptor antagonist 7α-[9-[(4,4,5,5,5-pentafluoropentyl)sulfinyl]nonyl]estra-1,3,5(10)-triene-3,17β-diol (ICI 182,780) prevent the effects of 2MEO. The actions of 2MEO were not mimicked by the microtubule-interfering agents colchicine or paclitaxel. In mice exposed to LPS, bronchoalveolar lavage protein content, a measure of vascular leak and epithelial injury, was reduced to a comparable extent (~54%) by treatment with 2MEO (150 mg · kg⁻¹) or dexamethasone (1 mg · kg⁻¹). In addition, 2MEO reduced LPS-induced interleukin-6 gene expression. Thus, 2MEO modulates macrophage activation in vitro and has high-dose acute anti-inflammatory activity in vivo. These findings are consistent with the acute anti-inflammatory actions of 2MEO being mediated in part by the suppression of macrophage activation.