Interactions between the gut microbiota and the host are important for health, where dysbiosis has emerged as a likely component of mucosal disease. The specific constituents of the microbiota that contribute to mucosal disease are not well defined. The authors sought to define microbial components that regulate homeostasis within the intestinal mucosa. Using an unbiased, metabolomic profiling approach, a selective depletion of indole and indole-derived metabolites was identified in murine and human colitis. Indole-3-propionic acid (IPA) was selectively diminished in circulating serum from human subjects with active colitis, and IPA served as a biomarker of disease remission. Administration of indole metabolites showed prominent induction of IL-10R1 on cultured intestinal epithelia that was explained by activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor. Colonization of germ-free mice with wild-type Escherichia coli, but not E. coli mutants unable to generate indole, induced colonic epithelial IL-10R1. Moreover, oral administration of IPA significantly ameliorated disease in a chemically induced murine colitis model. This work defines a novel role of indole metabolites in anti-inflammatory pathways mediated by epithelial IL-10 signaling and identifies possible avenues for utilizing indoles as novel therapeutics in mucosal disease.