To define the molecular mechanism(s) by which interleukin (IL)-4 reversibly inhibits formation of osteoclasts (OCs) from bone marrow macrophages (BMMs), we examined the capacity of this T cell-derived cytokine to impact signals known to modulate osteoclastogenesis, which include those initiated by macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF), receptor for activation of NF-κB ligand (RANKL), tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and IL-1. We find that although pretreatment of BMMs with IL-4 does not alter M-CSF signaling, it reversibly blocks RANKL-dependent activation of the NF-κB, JNK, p38, and ERK signals. IL-4 also selectively inhibits TNF signaling, while enhancing that of IL-1. Contrary to previous reports, we find that MEK inhibitors dose-dependently inhibit OC differentiation. To identify more proximal signals mediating inhibition of OC formation by IL-4, we used mice lacking STAT6 or SHIP1, two adapter proteins that bind the IL-4 receptor. IL-4 fails to inhibit RANKL/M-CSF-induced osteoclastogenesis by BMMs derived from STAT6-, but not SHIP1-, knockout mice. Consistent with this observation, the inhibitory effects of IL-4 on RANKL-induced NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation are STAT6-dependent. We conclude that IL-4 reversibly arrests osteoclastogenesis in a STAT6-dependent manner by 1) preventing IκB phosphorylation and thus NF-κB activation, and 2) blockade of the JNK, p38, and ERK mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways.