Statins are 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors that exert anti-inflammatory effects. IFN-γ induction of class II MHC expression, which requires the class II transactivator (CIITA), is inhibited by statins; however, the molecular basis for suppression is undetermined. We describe that statins inhibit IFN-γ-induced class II MHC expression by suppressing CIITA gene expression, which is dependent on the HMG-CoA reductase pathway. In addition, CIITA expression is inhibited by GGTI-298 or Clostridium difficile Toxin A, specific inhibitors of Rho family protein prenylation, indicating the involvement of small GTPases. Rac1 is involved in IFN-γ inducible expression of CIITA, and statins inhibit IFN-γ-induced Rac1 activation, contributing to the inhibitory effect of statins. IFN-γ induction of the CIITA gene is regulated by the transcription factors STAT-1α, interferon regulatory factor (IRF)-1 and upstream stimulatory factor (USF)-1. We previously reported that statins inhibit constitutive STAT-1α expression. IRF-1, a STAT-1 dependent gene, is also inhibited by statins. Therefore, statin treatment results in decreased recruitment of STAT-1α and IRF-1 to the endogenous CIITA promoter IV (pIV). The recruitment of USF-1 to CIITA pIV is also reduced by statins, as is the recruitment of RNA polymerase II (Pol II), p300 and Brg-1. These data indicate that statins inhibit the transcriptional program of the CIITA gene. © 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.