Prostaglandins (PG) are well known lipid mediators with important immunoregulatory properties. While exogenous PGE2 has the ability to modulate the function and maturation of antigen presenting cells, such as dendritic cells (DC), it is not clear whether human DC have the capacity to synthesize PGE2 and other prostaglandins themselves. We therefore examined the expression of inducible cyclo-oxygenase (COX-2) by monocyte derived DC and the production of PGE2 and PGD2. Both monocyte derived DC and freshly isolated blood myeloid DC expressed little COX-2 constitutively, though COX-2 expression was rapidly but transiently upregulated in response to lipopolysaccharide stimulation. COX-2 mRNA was detectable within 1 h of LPS exposure, peaked at 4-6 h, and rapidly declined thereafter. COX-2 expression was accompanied by DC synthesis of PGE2, with peak levels present at 6-18 h post-stimulation. In contrast, PGD2 synthesis was not detected at any time point. When DC were activated with LPS in the presence of nimesulide, a COX-2 selective inhibitor, IL-10 synthesis was inhibited, indicating that endogenous prostaglandins regulate DC cytokine production. PGE2 production by DC may therefore modulate DC and T-cell function, thereby shaping the character of the immune response.