Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) is a potent bone resorbing factor. The effect of LPS on osteoclast formation was examined by using murine RAW 264.7 macrophage cells. LPS-induced the formation of multinucleated giant cells (MGC) in RAW 264.7 cells 3 days after the exposure. MGCs were positive for tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) activity. Further, MGC formed resorption pits on calcium-phosphate thin film that is a substrate for osteoclasts. Therefore, LPS was suggested to induce osteoclast formation in RAW 264.7 cells. LPS-induced osteoclast formation was abolished by anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha antibody, but not antibodies to macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) and receptor activator of nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB ligand (RANKL). TNF-alpha might play a critical role in LPS-induced osteoclast formation in RAW 264.7 cells. Inhibitors of NF-kappaB and stress activated protein kinase (SAPK/JNK) prevented the LPS-induced osteoclast formation. The detailed mechanism of LPS-induced osteoclast formation is discussed.