We have investigated the possible effect of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) on signal transduction pathways associated with inflammatory activation of BV-2 mouse microglia cells. Pretreatment of the cells with PACAP resulted in a significant decrease in LPS- or IFNγ-induced NO production as well as iNOS and IL-1β mRNA levels. The inhibitory effect of PACAP appeared to be mediated through an increase in intracellular cAMP. PACAP inhibition of LPS-induced NO production was accompanied by inhibition of p38 MAPK activation, but not ERK, JNK, or NF-κB. IFNγ-induced STAT-1 activation or IRF-1 induction was not significantly influenced by PACAP. Therefore, PACAP appears to suppress inflammatory activation of BV-2 microglia via specific inhibition of LPS-induced p38 MAPK pathway.