Azithromycin (AZM), a 15-member macrolide antibiotic, possesses anti-inflammatory activity. Macrophages are important in innate and acquired immunity, and produce pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-12, which are composed of subunit p40 and p35. The key function of IL-12 is the induction and maintenance of T-helper-1 responses, which is associated with the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory diseases. We investigated the effect of azithromycin on IL-12p40 production in macrophages after lipopolysaccharide (LPS)/interferon (IFN)-gamma stimulation. RAW264.7 macrophage cell line was pre-treated with vehicle or AZM, followed by the stimulation with LPS/IFN-gamma. We measured IL-12 production by RT-PCR and ELISA. IL-12 transcriptional regulation was assessed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and reporter assay. Phosphorylation of activator protein (AP)-1 and interferon consensus sequence binding protein (ICSBP) was assessed by immunoprecipitation using phosphotyrosine antibody, and immunoblotting using specific antibodies against JunB and ICSBP. AZM reduced the induction of IL-12p40 by LPS/IFN-gamma in a dose dependent manner. AZM inhibited the binding of AP-1, nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), and ICSBP, to the DNA binding site in the IL-12p40 promoter. AZM also reduced LPS/IFN-gamma-induced IL-12p40 promoter activity. Phosphorylation of JunB and ICSBP was inhibited by azithromycin-treatment in stimulated cells. In conclusion, AZM reduced IL-12p40 transcriptional activity by inhibiting the binding of AP-1, NFAT, and ICSBP to the promoter site. This may represent an important mechanism for regulating the anti-inflammatory effects of AZM in macrophages.