The M1 and M2 polarized phenotypes dictate distinctive roles for macrophages as they participate in inflammatory disorders. There has been growing interest in the role of cellular metabolism in macrophage polarization. However, it is currently unclear whether different aspects of a specific metabolic program coordinately regulate this cellular process. In this study, we found that pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 1 (PDK1), a key regulatory enzyme in glucose metabolism, plays an important role in the differential activation of macrophages. Knockdown of PDK1 diminished M1, whereas it enhanced M2 activation of macrophages. Mechanistically, PDK1 knockdown led to diminished aerobic glycolysis in M1 macrophages, which likely accounts for the attenuated inflammatory response in these cells. Furthermore, we found that mitochondrial respiration is enhanced during and required by the early activation of M2 macrophages. Suppression of glucose oxidation, but not that of fatty acids, inhibits this process. Consistent with its inhibitory role in early M2 activation, knockdown of PDK1 enhanced mitochondrial respiration in macrophages. Our data suggest that two arms of the glucose metabolism synergistically regulate the differential activation of macrophages. Our findings also highlight the central role of PDK1 in this event via controlling glycolysis and glucose oxidation.