Tolerance to bacterial cell wall components including lipopolysaccharide (LPS) may represent an essential regulatory mechanism during bacterial infection. Two members of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) family, TLR2 and TLR4, recognize the specific pattern of bacterial cell wall components. TLR4 has been found to be responsible for LPS tolerance. However, the role of TLR2 in bacterial lipoprotein (BLP) tolerance and LPS tolerance is unclear. Pretreatment of human THP-1 monocytic cells with a synthetic bacterial lipopeptide induced tolerance to a second BLP challenge with diminished tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6 production, termed BLP tolerance. Furthermore, BLP-tolerized THP-1 cells no longer responded to LPS stimulation, indicating a cross-tolerance to LPS. Induction of BLP tolerance was CD14-independent, as THP-1 cells that lack membrane-bound CD14 developed tolerance both in serum-free conditions and in the presence of a specific CD14 blocking monoclonal antibody (MEM-18). Pre-exposure of THP-1 cells to BLP suppressed mitogen-activated protein kinase phosphorylation and nuclear factor-kappaB activation in response to subsequent BLP and LPS stimulation, which is comparable with that found in LPS-tolerized cells, indicating that BLP tolerance and LPS tolerance may share similar intracellular pathways. However, BLP strongly enhanced TLR2 expression in non-tolerized THP-1 cells, whereas LPS stimulation had no effect. Furthermore, a specific TLR2 blocking monoclonal antibody (2392) attenuated BLP-induced, but not LPS-induced, tumor necrosis factor-a and interleukin-6 production, indicating BLP rather than LPS as a ligand for TLR2 engagement and activation. More importantly, pretreatment of THP-1 cells with BLP strongly inhibited TLR2 activation in response to subsequent BLP stimulation. In contrast, LPS tolerance did not prevent BLP-induced TLR2 overexpression. These results demonstrate that BLP tolerance develops through down-regulation of TLR2 expression.