Recent evidence suggests that the phosphocholine-derived lipid mediator platelet-activating factor (PAF) is involved in keratinocyte function and cutaneous inflammation. PAF is found in various inflammatory skin diseases, and intradermal injection of PAF directly results in cutaneous inflammation. Keratinocytes also synthesize PAF and related 1-acyl species in response to ionophores, cytokines and growth factors, and in response to activation of the epidermal PAF receptor. Since keratinocytes are routinely exposed to potential damage by thermal or oxidative stressors with resultant induction of cutaneous inflammation, the objective of these studies was to assess whether exogenous thermal or oxidative damage can induce the production of PAF and related 1-acyl species. Cells of the immortalized human keratinocyte cell line HaCaT were subjected to acute heat or cold, or treatment with the pro-oxidant lipid tertiary butyl hydroperoxide, and PAF and 1-palmitoyl-2-acetyl-GPC were measured by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. We report that these diverse toxic stimuli resulted in the accumulation of these biologically active lipids. These studies suggest that the PAF system is involved in the inflammatory response seen following acute epidermal damage.