It is suggested that cholesterol efflux mediated by ATP binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) plays an important role in anti-atherogenesis. However, the effects of inflammatory cytokines on ABCA1 expression and cholesterol accumulation in foam cells are little known. This study investigates the effects of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-10 (IL-10) on ABCA1 expression and cholesterol content in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells. ABCA1mRNA and protein levels were determined by RT-PCR and Western blot, respectively. The total cholesterol content in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells was detected by the zymochemistry method. Results revealed that TNF-α could increase cholesterol content by down-regulating ABCA1 expression in a time-dependent manner in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells, which may contribute to its pro-atherosclerotic effect. In addition IL-10 time-dependently decreased cholesterol accumulation by up-regulating ABCA1 expression and inhibited the down-regulation of ABCA1 by TNF-α in THP-1 macrophage-derived foam cells, which may be one of the mechanisms of IL-10 contributing to its anti-atherosclerotic action.