alpha 2-Macroglobulin receptor/low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (alpha 2M-R/LRP) is a broad specificity receptor that may function in lipoprotein metabolism, proteinase regulation, and growth factor regulation. In this study, we demonstrated that alpha 2M-R/LRP expression in macrophages can be markedly decreased by LPS and by IFN-gamma. Regulation of alpha 2M-R/LRP in RAW 264.7 cells was demonstrated at the mRNA, antigen, and receptor-function levels. In receptor-function studies, the decrease in alpha 2M-R/LRP expression was detected as a 90% decrease in the Bmax or maximum receptor binding capacity for activated alpha 2M after treatment with LPS or IFN-gamma. Western blot analysis of whole cell lysates demonstrated significant loss of alpha 2M-R/LRP heavy-chain. Northern blot analysis of poly(A)+ RNA revealed a marked decrease in alpha 2M-R/LRP mRNA after treatment with LPS (79% decrease) or IFN-gamma (70% decrease). Other cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha, transforming growth factor-beta-1, and interleukin-6 did not regulate alpha 2M-R/LRP. The ability of LPS and IFN-gamma to regulate alpha 2M-R/LRP was confirmed in experiments with primary cultures of murine bone marrow macrophages. These studies demonstrate that macrophage alpha 2M-R/LRP is subject to significant downregulation by physiologically significant cytokines and signaling macromolecules.