Although interferon-γ (IFN-γ) potently inhibits osteoclastogenesis, the suppressive effect is significantly reduced when osteoclast precursors are pre-exposed to the receptor activator of NF-κB (RANK) ligand (RANKL). However, the molecular mechanism underlying the biphasic effects of IFN-γ on osteoclastogenesis remains elusive. Here, we recapitulate the biphasic functions of IFN-γ in osteoclastogenesis in both tissue culture dishes and on bone slices. We further demonstrate that IFN-γ markedly suppresses the RANKL-induced expression of nuclear factor of activated T-cells c1 (NFATc1) in normal, but not RANKL-pretreated bone marrow macrophages (BMMs). Similarly, IFN-γ impairs the activation of the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) pathways in normal, but not RANKL-pretreated, BMMs. These findings indicate that IFN-γ inhibits osteoclastogenesis partially by suppressing the expression of NFATc1 and the activation of the NF-κB and JNK pathways. Moreover, IFN-γ inhibits the RANKL-induced expression of osteoclast genes, but RANKL pretreatment reprograms osteoclast genes into a state in which they can no longer be suppressed by IFN-γ, indicating that IFN-γ inhibits osteoclastogenesis by blocking the expression of osteoclast genes. Finally, the IVVY535-538 motif in the cytoplasmic domain of RANK is responsible for rendering BMMs refractory to the inhibitory effect of IFN-γ. Taken together, these findings provide important mechanistic insights into the biphasic effects of IFN-γ on osteoclastogenesis. © Copyright 2012, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.