Reactive oxygen species released during the respiratory burst are known to participate in cell signaling. Here we demonstrate that hydrogen peroxide produced by the respiratory burst activates AP-1 binding. Stimulation of the macrophage cell line NR8383 with respiratory burst agonists ADP and C5a increased AP-1 binding activity. Importantly, this increase in binding was blocked by catalase, confirming mediation by endogenous H2O2. Moreover, exogenously added H2O2 mimicked the agonists, and also activated AP-1. Antibodies revealed that the activated AP-1 complex is composed predominantly of c-Fos/c-Jun heterodimers. Treatment of the cells with ADP, C5a and H2O2 (100 μM) all increased the phosphorylation of c-Jun. c-Fos protein was increased in cells treated with C5a or high dose (200 μM) H2O2, but not in cells treated with ADP. The MEK inhibitor, PD98059, partially blocked the C5a-mediated increase in AP-1 binding. A novel membrane-permeable peptide inhibitor of JNK, JNKi, also inhibited AP-1 activation. Together these data suggest that C5a-mediated AP-1 activation requires both the activation of the ERK and JNK pathways, whereas activation of the JNK pathway is sufficient to increase AP-1 binding with ADP. Thus, AP-1 activation joins the list of pathways for which the respiratory burst signals downstream events in the macrophage. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc.