Activin A is a cytokine whose multiple functions have yet to be fully determined. In this study, the role of proinflammatory cytokines in regulatory control of activin A production was shown in synoviocytes and chondrocytes. Additional facets of functional inflammation-related activities of activin A were also determined. Results showed that activin A concentrations in the synovial fluid of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and gout were elevated relative to those in patients with osteoarthritis. Further studies showed that production of activin A by synoviocytes and chondrocytes in culture was stimulated by cytokines such as IL-1, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), and IL-8, consistent with previous studies in regard to the control of activin A production in marrow stromal cells and monocytes by cytokines, glucocorticoids and retinoic acid. In addition, the relationship of activin A to IL-6-induced biological activities was investigated. Three major IL-6 activities involved in inflammatory responses were found to be suppressed by activin A. In a dose-dependent manner, activin A efficiently suppressed IL-6-induced proliferation of 7TD1 B lymphoid cells, phagocytic activity of monocytic M1 cells, and fibrinogen production in HepG2. Therefore, it is likely that activin A serves as a suppressor for IL-6, dampening inflammatory responses, and has the potential to perform some previously unrecognized roles in inflammation.