Atherogenic lipoproteins such as oxidized LDL are implicated in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and renal disease. Fatty acid hydroperoxides and phospholipids such as linoleyl hydroperoxide (LAox or 13-HPODE) and lysophos-phatidylcholine (lyso-PC), abundant components of oxidized LDL, mediate the effects of atherogenic lipids. Oxidized LDL has been shown to induce heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), a microsomal enzyme that is involved in heme detoxification and is a major endogenous source of carbon monoxide. HO-1 is also induced by many other stimuli that shift cellular redox. To identify the constituents and molecular mechanisms of oxidized LDL-mediated HO-1 induction, human renal epithelial cells and aortic endothelial cells were exposed to LAox and lyso-PC. Exposure to LAox (25 μM) showed an approximately 16-fold induction of HO-1 mRNA, whereas exposure to lyso-PC (25 μM) showed only an approximate 2.6-fold increase. Treatment with actinomycin-D (4 μM), a transcriptional inhibitor, as well as nuclear run- on assays, demonstrated that LAox-mediated HO-1 gene induction is dependent on de novo transcription. Cycloheximide did not affect LAox-mediated HO-1 mRNA induction, suggesting that new protein synthesis is not required for transcriptional induction. Transfection of a human HO-1 promoter-reporter gene construct showed that LAox upregulation of HO-1 occurs via mechanisms different from those of known inducers, heme and cadmium. These studies are the first demonstration that LAox induces HO-1 by transcriptional mechanisms and may have implications in the pathogenesis of cell injury in atherosclerosis and progressive renal disease.