Increasing evidence demonstrated that microRNAs (miRNAs) play critical roles in innate immunity in vertebrates and invertebrates. MiR-146a/b is reported as a key regulator of the immune response through mediating Toll-like receptor and cytokine signalling. In this study, a novel miR-146a was identified and characterised from Pinctada martensii (designated as pm-miR-146a), and its roles in modulating the inflammatory response after LPS stimulation were also investigated. Pm-miR-146a ubiquitously expressed in all examined tissues, with the highest level in the mantle and lowest expression in the haemolymph. Pm-miR-146a increased at 24 h after lipoplysaccharide injection, in union with up-regulated NF-κB (P < 0.05). The over-expression of pm-miR-146a in vivo could significantly inhibit the expression of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF), the potential target gene predicted by miRanda, while enforcing pm-miR-146a involved in the down-regulation of NF-κB. Thus, we propose that pm-miR-146a plays a role of negative feedback regulation to the NF-κB signal by repressing the expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokine MIF. These findings revealed that miR-146a represents a critical role in inflammatory response and offers new evidence for miRNAs in the innate immunity of molluscs.