The key insulin-regulated gluconeogenic enzyme G6Pase (glucose-6-phosphatase) has an important function in the control of hepatic glucose production. Here we examined the inhibition of G6Pase gene transcription by TNF (tumour necrosis factor) in H4IIE hepatoma cells. TNF decreased dexamethasone/dibtuyryl cAMP-induced G6Pase mRNA levels. TNFalpha, but not insulin, led to rapid activation of NFkappaB (nuclear factor kappaB). The adenovirad overexpression of a dominant negative mutant of IkappaBalpha (inhibitor of NFkappaB alpha) prevented the suppression of G6Pase expression by TNFalpha, but did not affect that by insulin. The regulation of G6Pase by TNF was not mediated by activation of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B pathway, extracellular-signal-regulated protein kinase or p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. Reporter gene assays demonstrated a concentration-dependent down-regulation of G6Pase promoter activity by the transient overexpression of NFkappaB. Although two binding sites for NFkappaB were identified within the G6Pase promoter, neither of these sites, nor the insulin response unit or binding sites for Sp proteins, was necessary for the regulation of G6Pase promoter activity by TNFalpha. In conclusion, the data indicate that the activation of NFkappaB is sufficient to suppress G6Pase gene expression, and is required for the regulation by TNFalpha, but not by insulin. We propose that NFkappaB does not act by binding directly to the G6Pase promoter.