Our group and others have shown in vitro that repeated exposure of human mononuclear cells (MNC) to lipopolysaccharide can induce endotoxin tolerance, evidenced by downregulation of TLR2 and TLR4 mRNA and surface protein; moreover, the ability of the MNC to secrete inflammatory cytokines is reduced. In situ studies performed on diseased and healthy gingiva suggest that a similar pattern of endotoxin tolerance occurs in human oral mucosa with chronic periodontitis (CP). We hypothesized that this represents a fundamental immunoregulatory mechanism to restore immune homeostasis and protect the host from further tissue damage. In the current study, we extend these published studies by providing evidence that Src homology 2 containing inositol phosphatase, an inhibitor of NF-κB activation and a negative regulator of the immune response, is upregulated in the oral mucosa during CP compared to its level during gingival health. We have also isolated MNC from patients with CP and those with healthy gingiva and show that MNC from CP subjects have a reduced capacity to upregulate TLR2, TLR4, and interleukin-1β in response to endotoxin. Thus, we provide more definitive evidence for a basic mechanism of immunoregulation in the oral mucosa.