Septic shock is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. However, genetic factors predisposing to septic shock are not fully understood. Excessive production of proinflammatory cytokines, particularly tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and the resultant severe hypotension play a central role in the pathophysiological process. Mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascades are crucial in the biosynthesis of proinflammatory cytokines. MAP kinase phosphatase (MKP)-1 is an archetypal member of the dual specificity protein phosphatase family that dephosphorylates MAP kinase. Thus, we hypothesize that knockout of the Mkp-1 gene results in prolonged MAP kinase activation, augmented cytokine production, and increased susceptibility to endotoxic shock. Here, we show that knockout of Mkp-1 substantially sensitizes mice to endotoxic shock induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. We demonstrate that upon LPS challenge, Mkp-1 −/− cells exhibit prolonged p38 and c-Jun NH 2-terminal kinase activation as well as enhanced TNF-α and interleukin (IL)-6 production compared with wild-type cells. After LPS challenge, Mkp-1 knockout mice produce dramatically more TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 than do wild-type mice. Consequently, Mkp-1 knockout mice develop severe hypotension and multiple organ failure, and exhibit a remarkable increase in mortality. Our studies demonstrate that MKP-1 is a pivotal feedback control regulator of the innate immune responses and plays a critical role in suppressing endotoxin shock.