IkappaB inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB), which is known to regulate the expression of various genes, including genes involved in inflammation. Recently, a novel IkappaB family protein, 'molecule possessing ankyrin repeats induced by lipopolysaccharide' (MAIL), was identified. MAIL is a nuclear-acting, inducible protein, unlike typical IkappaB proteins. However, the mechanism of its induction by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is unclear. Using the LPS-reactive region located upstream from the MAIL gene, we investigated the mechanism of MAIL induction. MAIL expression was strongly regulated by NF-kappaB and partly regulated by CREB. Furthermore, deletion, point mutation and binding analyses revealed that the NF-kappaB binding site located at -229 to -220 bp is an essential target of MAIL expression. Overexpression of MAIL protein suppressed the LPS-induced promoter activity of the MAIL gene. These data indicate that MAIL expression is strongly upregulated by NF-kappaB, and it is controlled, at least in part, by an autoregulation mechanism.