Glucocorticoids profoundly influence immune responses, and synthetic glucocorticoids are widely used clinically for their potent antiinflammatory effects. Endogenous glucocorticoid action is modulated by the two isozymes of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD). In vivo, 11β-HSD1 catalyzes the reduction of inactive cortisone or 11-dehydrocorticosterone into active cortisol or corticosterone, respectively, thereby increasing intracellular glucocorticoid levels. 11β-HSD2 catalyzes the reverse reaction, inactivating intracellular glucocorticoids. Both enzymes have been postulated to modulate inflammatory responses. In the K/BxN serum transfer model of arthritis, 11β-HSD1-deficient mice showed earlier onset and slower resolution of inflammation than wildtype controls, with greater exostoses in periarticular bone and, uniquely, ganglion cysts, consistent with greater inflammation. In contrast, K/BxN serum arthritis was unaffected by 11β-HSD2 deficiency. In a distinct model of inflammation, thioglycollate-induced sterile peritonitis, 11β-HSD1- deficient mice had more inflammatory cells in the peritoneum, but again 11β-HSD2-deficient mice did not differ from controls. Additionally, compared with control mice, 11β-HSD1-deficient mice showed greater numbers of inflammatory cells in pleural lavages in carrageenan-induced pleurisy with lung pathology consistent with slower resolution. These data suggest that 11β-HSD1 limits acute inflammation. In contrast, 11β-HSD2 plays no role in acute inflammatory responses in mice. Regulation of local 11β-HSD1 expression and/or delivery of substrate may afford a novel approach for antiinflammatory therapy.