Current data have shown that punicalagin (PUN), an ellagitannin isolated from pomegranate, possesses anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties; however, its direct targets have not yet been reported. This is the first report that PTP1B serves as a direct target of PUN, with IC50 value of 1.04 μM. Results from NPOI further showed that the Kon and Koff of PUN-PTP1B complex were 3.38e2 M−1 s−1 and 4.13e-3 s−1, respectively. The active site Arg24 of PTP1B was identified as a key binding site of PUN by computation simulation and point mutation. Moreover, inhibition of PTP1B by PUN promoted an M2c-like macrophage polarization and enhanced anti-inflammatory cytokines expression, including IL-10 and M-CSF. Based on gene expression profile, we elucidated that PUN treatment significantly up-regulated 275 genes and down-regulated 1059 genes. M1-like macrophage marker genes, such as Tlr4, Irf1/2, Hmgb1, and Stat1 were down-regulated, while M2 marker genes, including Tmem171, Gpr35, Csf1, Il1rn, Cebpb, Fos, Vegfα, Slc11a1, and Bhlhe40 were up-regulated in PUN-treated macrophages. Hmox-1, a gene encoding HO-1 protein, was preferentially expressed with 16-fold change. Inhibition of HO-1 obviously restored PUN-induced M2 polarization and IL-10 secretion. In addition, phosphorylation of both Akt and STAT3 contributed to PUN-induced HO-1 expression. This study provided new insights into the mechanisms of PUN-mediated anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activities and provided new therapeutic strategies for inflammatory diseases.