Cellular differentiation of immune cells involves an array of molecular events responsible for their commitment to cellular maturation. Treatment of HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells with 12-o-tetradecanoyl-phorbol-13-acetate (TPA) induces the cells to differentiate into monocyte/macrophage-like cells. In this study, following TPA treatment, there was a significant increase in mu opioid peptide receptor (MOPR) mRNA levels in the differentiated HL-60 cells as measured by quantitative-competitive RT-PCR (QC-RT-PCR) and real-time RT-PCR. Morphine′s inhibition of forskolin-induced intracellular cAMP confirmed the functionality of the MOPR. TPA-induced differentiation also significantly enhanced the binding activities of two transcriptional factors, AP-1 and NFkB. Prolonged treatment of the TPA-differentiated HL-60 cells with morphine down-regulated MOPR mRNA expression and decreased the binding activities of AP-1 and NFkB, both of which were naloxone reversible. Thus, the direct correlation between AP-1 and NFkB binding activities and MOPR expression in HL-60 cells following TPA-induced differentiation as well as in TPA-differentiated HL-60 cells given prolonged treatment with morphine suggests that transcriptional factors, such as AP-1 and NFkB, may play a role in the molecular mechanisms underlying regulation of MOPR expression in immune cells.