Inflammatory mediators have been recognized as being important in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Interleukin (IL)-17 is an important regulator of immune and inflammatory responses, including the induction of proinflammatory cytokines and osteoclastic bone resorption. Evidence for the expression and proinflammatory activity of IL-17 has been demonstrated in RA synovium and in animal models of RA. Although some cytokines (IL-15 and IL-23) have been reported to regulate IL-17 production, the intracellular signaling pathways that regulate IL-17 production remain unknown. In the present study, we investigated the role of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathway in the regulation of IL-17 production in RA. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from patients with RA (n = 24) were separated, then stimulated with various agents including anti-CD3, anti-CD28, phytohemagglutinin (PHA) and several inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. IL-17 levels were determined by sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction. The production of IL-17 was significantly increased in cells treated with anti-CD3 antibody with or without anti-CD28 and PHA (P < 0.05). Among tested cytokines and chemokines, IL-15, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and IL-6 upregulated IL-17 production (P < 0.05), whereas tumor necrosis factor-α, IL-1β, IL-18 or transforming growth factor-β did not. IL-17 was also detected in the PBMC of patients with osteoarthritis, but their expression levels were much lower than those of RA PBMC. Anti-CD3 antibody activated the PI3K/Akt pathway; activation of this pathway resulted in a pronounced augmentation of nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) DNA-binding activity. IL-17 production by activated RA PBMC is completely or partly blocked in the presence of the NF-κB inhibitor pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate and the PI3K/Akt inhibitor wortmannin and LY294002, respectively. However, inhibition of activator protein-1 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 did not affect IL-17 production. These results suggest that signal transduction pathways dependent on PI3K/Akt and NF-κB are involved in the overproduction of the key inflammatory cytokine IL-17 in RA.