Abstract In the present study, the chemical constituents of Artemisia fukudo essential oil (AFE) were investigated using GC–MS. The major constituents were α-thujone (48.28%), β-thujone (12.69%), camphor (6.95%) and caryophyllene (6.01%). We also examined the effects of AFE on the production of nitric oxide (NO), prostaglandin E 2 (PGE 2), tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, and IL-6, in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-activated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Western blotting and RT-PCR tests indicated that AFE has potent dose-dependent inhibitory effects on pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators. We investigated the mechanism by which AFE inhibits NO and PGE 2 by examining the level of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) activation within the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, which is an inflammation-induced signal pathway in RAW 264.7 cells. AFE inhibited LPS-induced ERK, JNK, and p38 phosphorylation. Furthermore, AFE inhibited the LPS-induced phosphorylation and degradation of Iκ-B-α, which is required for the nuclear translocations of the p50 and p65 NF-κB subunits in RAW 264.7 cells. Our results suggest that AFE might exert an anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Such an effect is mediated by a blocking of NF-κB activation which consequently inhibits the generation of inflammatory mediators in RAW264.7 cells. AFE may be useful for treating inflammatory diseases.