Prostaglandins are important mediators of activated macrophage functions, and their inducible synthesis is mediated by cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). Here, we make use of the murine macrophage cells RAW264 as well as of immortalized macrophages derived from mice deficient for the transcription factor CCAAT enhancer-binding protein β (C/EBPβ) to explore the molecular mechanisms regulating COX-2 induction in activated macrophages. We demonstrate that lipopolysaccharide-mediated COX-2 mRNA induction is biphasic. The initial phase is independent of de novo protein synthesis, correlates with cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) activation, is inhibited by treatments that abolish CREB phosphorylation and reduce NF-κB-mediated gene activation, and requires the presence of the transcription factor C/EBPβ. On the other hand, C/EBPδ appears to be essential in addition to C/EBPβ to effect the second phase of COX-2 gene transcription, which is important for maintaining the induced state and requires de novo protein synthesis. Indeed, both phases of COX-2 induction were defective in C/EBPβ-/- macrophages. Moreover, the synthesis of C/EBPδ was increased dramatically by treatment with lipopolysaccharide and, like COX-2 induction, repressed by combined inhibition of the MAPK and of the SAPK2/p38 cascades. Taken together, these data identify CREB, NF-κB, and both C/EBPβ and -δ as key factors in coordinately orchestrating transcription from the COX-2 promoter in activated macrophages.