We presently report that treatment with tyrphostin AG-126 (2-(3-hydroxy-4-nitrobenzylidene)malononitrile) and ten other aromatic malononitrile compounds (AMN) improves the resistance of insulin-producing βTC6, RIN-5AH, and MIN6 cells to oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory cytokines. On the molecular level AMN compounds promote nuclear accumulation of the Nrf2 transcription factor and expression of the cytoprotective genes heme ogygenase 1 (HO-1) and NAD(P)H/quinone oxidoreductase 1 (NQO1), inhibit cytokine-dependent inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) induction, suppress intracellular production of reactive oxygen species in βTC6 and counteract to impairments of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines in MIN6 cells. Nrf2 up-regulation and HO-1 induction by AG-126 are attenuated at the presence of siRNA against Nrf2 and brusatol, an inhibitor of the Nrf2 signaling pathway. Our present results indicate that in respect of inhibition of IL-1β-dependent iNOS induction, βTC6 cells are more sensitive to EMK 1071 (2-((5-methylthiophen-2-yl)methylene)malononitrile) and EMK 31 (2-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzylidene)malononitrile) as compared to other analyzed AMN compounds. We suggest that the ability of AMN compounds to inhibit iNOS induction and other cytokine-induced transcriptional events might be a tool to achieve improved β-cell survival and functionality.