High mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1), originally characterized as a nuclear DNA-binding protein, has also been described to have an extracellular role when it is involved in cellular activation and proinflammatory responses. In this study, FLAG-tagged HMGB1 was inducibly expressed in the presence of culture media with or without added IL-1β, IFN-γ, or TNF-α. HMGB1 purified from cells grown in culture media alone only minimally increased cytokine production by MH-S macrophages and had no effect on murine neutrophils. In contrast, HMGB1 isolated from cells cultured in the presence of IL-1β, IFN-γ, and TNF-α had enhanced proinflammatory activity, resulting in increased production of MIP-2 and TNF-α by exposed cells. IL-1β was bound to HMGB1 isolated from cells cultured with this cytokine, and purified HMGB1 incubated with recombinant IL-1β acquired proinflammatory activity. Addition of anti-IL-1β Abs or the IL-1 receptor antagonist to cell cultures blocked the proinflammatory activity of HMGB1 purified from IL-1β-exposed cells, indicating that such activity was dependent on interaction with the IL-1 receptor. These results demonstrate that HMGB1 acquires proinflammatory activity through binding to proinflammatory mediators, such as IL-1β. Copyright © 2008 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.