Tissue factor (TF) is a transmembrane receptor that serves as the major cofactor for factor VIIa-catalyzed proteolytic activation of factors IX and X. In response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS), monocytes transcribe, synthesize, and express TF on their surface, thereby conveying to activated monocytes the ability to initiate the blood coagulation protease cascades. Agents that elevate cellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) inhibit the functional expression of TF by LPS-stimulated monocytes. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of this suppression. Northern blot analysis of total RNA from LPS-stimulated monocytes showed a concentration-dependent decrease in TF messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in response to dibutyryl-cAMP (dBt-cAMP). TF mRNA and procoagulant activity were inhibited as early as 1 hour after the addition of dBt-cAMP and the inhibition persisted through 4 hours. Suppression of specific mRNA abundance was also observed with agents, including forskolin and iso-butyl-methyl-xanthine (IBMX), that increase cAMP levels by independent mechanisms. Flow immunocytometric analysis confirmed that cell-surface TF protein levels declined in parallel with TF functional activity. The rate of decay of TF mRNA after the arrest of transcription by actinomycin D was not altered by the addition of dBt-cAMP, IBMX, or forskolin, thus excluding effects on TF mRNA stability. We conclude that elevated cAMP levels suppress TF mRNA by reducing the rate of TF gene transcription.