Background: Alveolar macrophages (AMs) are resident inflammatory cells in the lung that serve as early sentinels of infection or injury. We have identified thioredoxin reductase 1 inhibition by gold compounds increases activation of nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2)-dependent pathways to attenuate inflammatory responses. The present studies utilized murine alveolar macrophages (MH-S) to test the hypothesis that the gold compound, auranofin (AFN), decreases interleukin (IL)-1β expression through NRF2-mediated interactions with nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) pathway genes and/or increases in glutathione synthesis. Methods: MH-S cells were treated with AFN and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and analyzed at 6 and 24 h. The Il1b promoter was analyzed by chromatin immunoprecipitation for direct interaction with NRF2. Results: Expression of IL-1β, p-IκBα, p-p65 NF-kB, and NOD-, LRR-, and pyrin domain-containing protein 3 were elevated by LPS exposure, but only IL-1β expression was suppressed by AFN treatment. Both AFN and LPS treatments increased cellular glutathione levels, but attenuation of glutathione synthesis by buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) did not alter expression of Il-1β. Analysis revealed direct NRF2 binding to the Il1b promoter which was enhanced by AFN and inhibited the transcriptional activity of DNA polymerase II. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that AFN-induced NRF2 activation directly suppresses IL-1β synthesis independent of NFκB and glutathione-mediated antioxidant mechanisms. NRF2 binding to the promoter region of IL1β directly inhibits transcription of the IL1β gene. Collectively, our research suggests that gold compounds elicit NRF2-dependent pulmonary protection by suppressing macrophage-mediated inflammation.