We have shown previously that phenol/water extracts derived from two novel Treponema species, Treponema maltophilum, and Treponema brennaborense, resembling lipoteichoic acid (LTA), induce cytokines in mononuclear cells. This response was lipopolysaccharide binding-protein (LBP)-dependent and involved Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Here we show that secretion of tumor necrosis factor-alpha induced by Treponema culture supernatants and extracted LTA was paralleled by an LBP-dependent phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) p42 and p44, and p38, as well as the stress-activated protein kinases c-Jun N-terminal kinases 1 and 2. Phosphorylation of p42/44 correlated with an increase of activity, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels were significantly reduced by addition of inhibitors of p42/44 and p38, PD 98059 and SB 203580, respectively. Treponeme LTA differed from bacterial lipopolysaccharide regarding time course of p42/44 phosphorylation, exhibiting a prolonged activation of MAPKs. Furthermore, MAPK activation and cytokine induction failed to be strictly correlated. Involvement of TLR-4 for phosphorylation of p42/44 was shown employing the neutralizing anti-murine TLR-4 antibody MTS 510. In TLR-2-negative U373 cells, the compounds studied differed regarding MAPK activation with T. maltophilum leading to a stronger activation. In summary, the data presented here show that treponeme LTA are able to activate the MAPK and stress-activated protein kinase pathway involving LBP and TLR-4.