We have demonstrated that the baboon placenta expressed the mRNAs and proteins for secretory and cytosolic phospholipase A2 (PLA2) enzymes and that cPLA2 expression increased with advancing gestation in association with the increase in placental estrogen production. To determine whether estrogen regulates placental PLA2 expression, as it does other aspects of syncytiotrophoblast functional differentiation, we compared sPLA2 and cPLA2 mRNA levels in placentas obtained on day 165 of gestation (term = day 184) from baboons that were untreated or treated during the second half of gestation with the aromatase inhibitor CGS 20267 or CGS 20267 and estradiol. Maternal saphenous and uterine vein estradiol levels were reduced (P < 0.05) by approximately 95% by treatment with CGS 20267 and restored by concomitant administration of CGS 20267 and estrogen. However, sPLA2 and cPLA2 mRNA levels expressed as a ratio of beta-actin were similar in whole villous placenta from baboons that were untreated or treated with CGS 20267 or CGS 20267 plus estrogen. PLA2 expression in an enriched fraction of nontrophoblast cells of the baboon placenta was also not altered by CGS 20267 treatment. Collectively these findings indicate that placental cPLA2 and sPLA2 expression is not estrogen-dependent. Because estrogen has been shown to regulate other aspects of placental steroidogenesis, we suggest that the regulatory role of estrogen on syncytiotrophoblast functional maturation is specific.