Among a range of diverse clinical symptoms, intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD) contributes mostly to the onset of lower back pain. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of c-Jun on nucleus pulposus (NP) cells of IDD and its regulation on molecular mechanisms. Intervertebral disc (IVD) tissues were collected from patients suffering from IDD disease, and NP cells were subsequently isolated and cultured. By overexpressing c-Jun in NP cells, expression levels of mRNAs and proteins of IDD-related genes and inflammatory cytokines were subjected to reverse transcription-quantitative PCR, western blot and ELISA assays. Additional transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) antibodies were administrated to suppress the function of TGF-β. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined via Cell Counting Kit-8 and TUNEL assays, respectively. The results demonstrated that the overexpression of c-Jun robustly upregulated both mRNA and protein expression of TGF-β, TIMP metallopeptidase inhibitor 3, aggrecan and collagen type II alpha 1 chain and simultaneously downregulated the expression of the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and IL-17. Furthermore, following c-Jun overexpression, survival rates of NP cells were increased while apoptosis rates were decreased. However, the addition of a TGF-β antibody significantly promoted apoptosis and restricted cell survival, which differed from the results of the c-Jun overexpression group. The present study hypothesized therefore that c-Jun may positively regulate TGF-β expression within NP cells of IDD, which could promote the proliferation of IDD-NP cells and accelerate cell viability via reducing apoptosis and the inflammatory response.