Combinatory responses of proinflamamtory cytokines have been examined on the nitric oxide-mediated function in cultured mouse calvarial osteoblasts. Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) induced iNOS gene expression and NO production, although these actions were inhibited by L-NG-monomethylarginine (L-NMMA) and decreased alkaline phosphatase (ALPase) activity. Furthermore, NO donors, sodium nitroprusside (SNP) and NONOate dose-dependently elevated ALPase activity. In contrast, transforming-growth factor-β (TGF-β) decreased NO production stimulated by IL-1β, TNF-α and interferon-γ (IFN-γ). iNOS was expressed by mouse calvarial osteoblast cells after stimulation with IL-1β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ. Incubation of mouse calvarial osteoblast cells with the cytokines inhibited growth and ALPase activity. However, TGF-β-treatment abolished these effects of IL-1β, TNF-α and IFN-γ on growth inhibition and stimulation of ALPase in mouse calvarial osteoblast cells. In contrast, IL-1β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ exerted growth-inhibiting effects on mouse calvarial osteoblast cells which were partly NO-dependent. The results suggest that NO may act predominantly as a modulator of cytokine-induced effects on mouse calvarial osteoblast cells and TGF-β is a negative regulator of the NO production stimulated by IL-1β, TNF-α and IFN-γ.