Hypoxia predisposes renal fibrosis. This study was conducted to identify novel approaches to ameliorate the pathogenic effect of hypoxia. Using human proximal tubular epithelial cells we showed that a pan-phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitor, 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) dose and time dependently downregulated hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) mRNA expression, which was further augmented by addition of a transcriptional inhibitor, actinomycin D. IBMX also increased the cellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) level. Luciferase assay showed that blocking of protein kinase A (PKA) using H89 reduced, while 8-Br-cAMP agonized the repression of HIF-1α promoter activity in hypoxic condition. Deletion of cAMP response element binding sites from the HIF-1α promoter abrogated the effect of IBMX. Western blot and immunofluorescent study confirmed that the CoCl2 induced increased HIF-1α protein in whole cell lysate and in nucleus was reduced by the IBMX. Through this process, IBMX attenuated both CoCl2 and hypoxia induced mRNA expressions of two pro-fibrogenic factors, platelet-derived growth factor B and lysyl oxidase. Moreover, IBMX reduced production of a mesenchymal transformation factor, β-catenin; as well as protected against hypoxia induced cell-death. Taken together, our study showed novel evidence that the PDE inhibitor IBMX can downregulate the transcription of HIF-1α, and thus may attenuate hypoxia induced renal fibrosis.