Aerial parts of Daphne oleoides Schreber ssp, oleoides (Thymelaeaceae) are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lumbago in Turkish folk medicine. In order to evaluate folkloric utilization, in vitro inhibitory effects of the ethyl acetate extract and fractions obtained from this extract on interleukin 1 (IL-1 alpha, IL-1 beta) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) biosynthesis were studied, Through chemical isolation techniques and activity-guided fractionation process, seventeen compounds were isolated and their structures were elucidated (numbered 1-17). Diterpenoids genkwadaphnin (3) and 1,2-dehydrodaphnetoxin (6) and a coumarin derivative daphnetin (9) showed potent inhibitory activity and were found to be the main active ingredients. Furthermore, gnidilatin (4), gnidilatin-20 palmitate (5), genkwadaphnin-20-palmitate (7) and gnidicin-20-palmitate (8), having diterpenoid structure, and eudesmine (12), wikstromol (13) and matairesinol (14), having lignan structure, were determined to possess moderate inhibitory activity and may have a contributory role in the effect of the remedy. (C) 2001 Academic Press.