The effects of a second generation p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor, SB 239063 [trans-1-(4-hydroxycyclohexyl)-4-(4-fluorophenyl)-5-(2-methoxypyridim idi n-4-yl)imidazole; IC(50) = 44 nM vs. p38 alpha], were assessed in models that represent different pathological aspects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) [airway neutrophilia, enhanced cytokine formation and increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity] and in a model of lung fibrosis. Airway neutrophil infiltration and interleukin (IL)-6 levels, assessed by bronchoalveolar lavage 48 h after lipopolysaccharide (LPS) inhalation, were inhibited dose dependently by 3-30 mg/kg of SB 239063 given orally twice a day. In addition, SB 239063 (30 mg/kg orally) attenuated IL-6 bronchoalveolar lavage fluid concentrations (>90% inhibition) and MMP-9 activity (64% inhibition) assessed 6 h after LPS exposure. In guinea pig cultured alveolar macrophages, SB 239063 inhibited LPS-induced IL-6 production (IC(50) of 362 nM). In a bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis model in rats, treatment with SB 239063 (2.4 or 4.8 mg/day via osmotic pump) significantly inhibited bleomycin-induced right ventricular hypertrophy (indicative of secondary pulmonary hypertension) and increases in lung hydroxyproline synthesis (indicative of collagen synthesis and fibrosis). Therefore, SB 239063 demonstrates activity against a range of sequelae commonly associated with COPD and fibrosis, supporting the therapeutic potential of p38 MAPK inhibitors such as SB 239063 in chronic airway disease.