Expression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 can be induced either by TLR agonists such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), or by various endogenous stimuli, in particular those acting via a cAMP-dependent signaling pathway. We have previously reported that the synthetic phospho-ceramide analogue-1 (PCERA-1) increases cAMP level and subsequently down-regulates production of TNFα and up-regulates production of IL-10 in LPS-stimulated macrophages. The objective of this study was to determine the mechanism of activity of PCERA-1 and the role of cAMP in LPS-induced IL-10 production. We show here that PCERA-1 induces IL-10 production in synergism with various TLR agonists in mouse RAW264.7 macrophages. Cooperativity is evident both at the mRNA and protein levels. IL-10 production by LPS and PCERA-1 is mediated by the cAMP pathway and by the p38 MAP kinase. Phosphorylation of p38 is cooperatively accomplished by LPS and PCERA-1 or other cAMP inducers. Furthermore, the activity of PCERA-1 can be partially mimicked by a cell-permeable analog of cAMP, and blocked by the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor H89. Finally, in the absence of PCERA-1, the residual IL-10 induction by LPS depends on the basal cAMP level as it can be largely elevated by the phosphodiesterase (PDE)-4 inhibitor rolipram. Our results thus indicate that IL-10 induction by LPS critically depends on basal cAMP level, and that a co-stimulus by a TLR agonist and a cAMP-elevating agent results in synergistic PKA-dependent and p38-dependent IL-10 production.