Fibroblast growth factors-2 (FGF-2) and bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2) are two of the main factors that regulate differentiation of osteoblasts. Interleukin-18 (IL-18), originally cloned as an interferon gamma-inducing factor, has been reported to inhibit maturation of osteoclasts by upregulation of osteoprotegerin secreted from osteoblasts. Little is known about the functional relationship between IL-18 and the two growth factors in osteoblast differentiation. To better understand this relationship, we analyzed the effect of BMP-2 and FGF-2 on the mRNA expression levels of IL-18, as well as IL-1alpha and IL-6, in MC3T3-E1 mouse osteoblastic cells. Following this, the effects of BMP-2 on the expression of IL-18 protein and caspase-1 protein were analyzed by immunofluorescence staining. Real-time PCR and immunofluorescence staining analysis showed that FGF-2 had no effect on the expression of IL-18 mRNA and protein, but while BMP-2 reduced IL-18 mRNA levels, increased immunostaining of both IL-18 protein and caspase-1 protein was detected in BMP-2-treated MC3T3-E1 cells. Although the significance and mechanisms of this counterregulation of IL-18 mRNA and protein were not determined in this study, the increase of IL-18 protein suggested that BMP-2 may induce an active form of IL-18.