Prostaglandin E(2) is a major renal cyclooxygenase metabolite of arachidonate and interacts with four G protein-coupled E-prostanoid receptors designated EP(1), EP(2), EP(3), and EP(4). Through these receptors, PGE(2) modulates renal hemodynamics and salt and water excretion. The intrarenal distribution and function of EP receptors have been partially characterized, and each receptor has a distinct role. EP(1) expression predominates in the collecting duct where it inhibits Na(+) absorption, contributing to natriuresis. The EP(2) receptor regulates vascular reactivity, and EP(2) receptor-knockout mice have salt-sensitive hypertension. The EP(3) receptor is also expressed in vessels as well as in the thick ascending limb and collecting duct, where it antagonizes vasopressin-stimulated salt and water transport. EP(4) mRNA is expressed in the glomerulus and collecting duct and may regulate glomerular tone and renal renin release. The capacity of PGE(2) to bidirectionally modulate vascular tone and epithelial transport via constrictor EP(1) and EP(3) receptors vs. dilator EP(2) and EP(4) receptors allows PGE(2) to serve as a buffer, preventing excessive responses to physiological perturbations.