p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is a pivotal enzyme in the biosynthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL-1 and TNF. Therefore, the success of anti-cytokine therapy for treatment of inflammatory processes qualified p38-MAPK as a solid target in drug research concerning chronic inflammatory diseases including infectious vascular, neurobiological, and autoimmune disorders. However, the discovery of new kinase inhibitors is limited by the need for a high biological activity combined with restricted activity to the target enzyme or pathway interaction. As a consequence, no p38 MAPK inhibitor has been introduced to the market so far, although several p38 inhibitors have proceeded into clinical trials. The development of novel inhibitor types and optimization of already known structural classes of MAPK inhibitors require appropriate testing systems reaching across these crucial parameters. As a new approach, we describe the sequential arrangement of three testing systems custom-tailored to the requirements of drug discovery programs with focus on p38 inhibition. Integrated analysis of the obtained results enables a concerted step-by-step selection of tested molecules in order to screen a compound library for the most suitable inhibitor. First, evaluation of the inhibitor's activity on the isolated p38 MAPK enzyme via an ELISA assay gives a first idea about the inhibitory potency of the molecule. Moreover, structure-activity relationships can be elucidated when comparing molecules within inhibitor series. Second, screening in living cells via a p38 substrate-specific MK2-EGFP translocation assay supplies further information about efficacy, but provides also a first notion concerning selectivity and toxicity. Third, efficacy is evaluated more specifically in vivo in LPS-stimulated human whole blood with regard to in vivo parameters, e.g., pharmacokinetic characteristics like plasma protein binding and cellular permeability. These three testing systems complement one another synergistically by providing a high overlap and predictability. Clear advantages of all presented systems are their realizability in an academic environment as well as their applicability for high-throughput screenings on a larger scale.