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Epidemiologic evidence indicates that cigarette smoke (CS) is associated with the development of acute lung injury (ALI). We have previously shown that brief CS exposure exacerbates lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced ALI in vivo and endothelial barrier dysfunction in vitro. In this study, we found that CS also exacerbated Pseudomonas-induced ALI in mice. We demonstrated that lung microvascular endothelial cells (ECs) isolated from mice exposed to CS had a greater permeability or incomplete recovery after challenges by LPS and thrombin. Histone deacetylase (HDAC) 6 deacetylates proteins essential for maintenance of endothelial barrier function. We found that HDAC6 phosphorylation at serine-22 was increased in lung tissues of mice exposed to CS and in lung ECs exposed to cigarette smoke extract (CSE). Inhibition of HDAC6 attenuated CSE-induced increases in EC permeability and CS priming of ALI. Similar barrier protection was provided by the microtubule stabilizer taxol, which preserved α-tubulin acetylation. CSE decreased α-tubulin acetylation and caused microtubule depolymerization. In coordination with increased HDAC6 phosphorylation, CSE inhibited Akt and activated glycogen synthase kinase (GSK)-3β; these effects were ameliorated by the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine. Our results suggest that CS increases lung EC permeability, thereby enhancing susceptibility to ALI, likely through oxidative stress-induced Akt inactivation and subsequent GSK-3β activation. Activated GSK-3β may activate HDAC6 via phosphorylation of serine-22, leading to α-tubulin deacetylation and microtubule disassembly. Inhibition of HDAC6 may be a novel therapeutic option for ALI in cigarette smokers.