Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a phytochemical with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and has therapeutic potential for the treatment of a range of inflammatory diseases, including osteoarthritis (OA). The aim of this study was to determine whether non-toxic concentrations of curcumin can reduce interleukin-1beta (IL-1β)-stimulated inflammation and catabolism in an explant model of cartilage inflammation. Articular cartilage explants and primary chondrocytes were obtained from equine metacarpophalangeal joints. Curcumin was added to monolayer cultured primary chondrocytes and cartilage explants in concentrations ranging from 3μM-100μM. Prostaglandin E 2 (PGE 2) and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 release into the secretome of IL-1β-stimulated explants was measured using a competitive ELISA and western blotting respectively. Proteoglycan (PG) release in the secretome was measured using the 1,9-dimethylmethylene blue (DMMB) assay. Cytotoxicity was assessed with a live/dead assay in monolayer cultures after 24 hours, 48 hours and five days, and in explants after five days. Curcumin induced chondrocyte death in primary cultures (50μM p<0.001 and 100μM p<0.001) after 24 hours. After 48 hours and five days, curcumin (≥25μM) significantly increased cell death ( p<0.001 both time points). In explants, curcumin toxicity was not observed at concentrations up to and including 25μM after five days. Curcumin (≥3μM) significantly reduced IL-1β-stimulated PG ( p<0.05) and PGE 2 release ( p<0.001) from explants, whilst curcumin (≥12μM) significantly reduced MMP-3 release ( p<0.01). Non-cytotoxic concentrations of curcumin exert anti-catabolic and anti-inflammatory effects in cartilage explants.