The CC chemokine eotaxin is a potent eosinophil-specific chemoattractant that is crucial for allergic inflammation. Allergen-induced tumour necrosis factor (TNF) has been shown to induce eotaxin synthesis in eosinophils. Nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) have been found to play an essential role for the eotaxin-mediated eosinophilia. We investigated the modulation of NF-κB and MAPK activation in TNF-induced eotaxin release of human eosinophils. Human blood eosinophils were purified from fresh buffy coat using magnetic cell sorting. NF-κB pathway-related genes were evaluated by cDNA expression array system. Degradation of IκBα and phosphorylation of MAPK were detected by Western blot. Activation of NF-κB was determined by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Eotaxin released into the eosinophil culture medium was measured by ELISA. TNF was found to up-regulate the gene expression of NF-κB and IκBα in eosinophils. TNF-induced IκBα degradation was inhibited by the proteasome inhibitor N-cbz-Leu-Leu-leucinal (MG-132) and a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug sodium salicylate (NaSal). Using EMSA, both MG-132 and NaSal were found to suppress the TNF-induced NF-κB activation in eosinophils. Furthermore, TNF was shown to induce phosphorylation of p38 MAPK time-dependently but not extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK). Inhibition of NF-κB activation and p38 MAPK activity decreased the TNF-induced release of eotaxin from eosinophils. These results indicate that NF-κB and p38 MAPK play an important role in TNF-activated signalling pathway regulating eotaxin release by eosinophils. They have also provided a biochemical basis for the potential of using specific inhibitors of NF-κB and p38 MAPK for treating allergic inflammation.