Women exposed to phthalates during pregnancy are at increased risk for delivering preterm, but the mechanism behind this relationship is unknown. Placental corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) are key mediators of parturition and are regulated by the non-canonical NF-kB (RelB/p52) signaling pathway. In this study, we demonstrate that one of the major phthalate metabolites, mono-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (MEHP), increased CRH and COX-2 mRNA and protein abundance in a dose-dependent manner in primary cultures of cytotrophoblast. This was coupled with an increase in nuclear import of RelB/p52 and its association with the CRH and COX-2 promoters. Silencing of NFkB inducing kinase, a central signaling component of the non-canonical NF-kB pathway, blocked MEHP-induced upregulation of CRH and COX-2. These results suggest a potential mechanism mediated by RelB/p52 by which phthalates could prematurely induce pro-labor gene activity and lead to preterm birth.