The type 1 55-kDa TNF receptor (TNFR1) is an important modulator of lung inflammation. Here, we hypothesized that the proteasome might regulate TNFR1 shedding from human airway epithelial cells. Treatment of NCI-H292 human airway epithelial cells for 2 h with the specific proteasome inhibitor clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone induced the shedding of proteolytically cleaved TNFR1 ectodomains. Clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone also induced soluble TNFR1 (sTNFR1) release from the A549 pulmonary epithelial cell line, as well as from primary cultures of human small airway epithelial cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Furthermore, sTNFR1 release induced by clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone was not a consequence of apoptosis or the extracellular release of TNFR1 exosome-like vesicles. The clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone-induced increase in TNFR1 shedding was associated with reductions in cell surface receptors and intracytoplasmic TNFR1 stores that were primarily localized to vesicular structures. As expected, the broad-spectrum zinc metalloprotease inhibitor TNF-alpha protease inhibitor 2 (TAPI-2) attenuated clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone-mediated TNFR1 shedding, which is consistent with its ability to inhibit the zinc metalloprotease-catalyzed cleavage of TNFR1 ectodomains. TAPI-2 also reduced TNFR1 on the cell surface and attenuated the clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone-induced reduction of intracytoplasmic TNFR1 vesicles. This suggests that TNFR1 shedding induced by clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone involves the zinc metalloprotease-dependent trafficking of intracytoplasmic TNFR1 vesicles to the cell surface. Together, these data are consistent with the conclusion that proteasomal activity negatively regulates TNFR1 shedding from human airway epithelial cells, thus identifying previously unrecognized roles for the proteasome and zinc metalloproteases in modulating the generation of sTNFRs.