Induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) has been described in a wide range of neurological diseases including animal models of epilepsy. The present study was undertaken to assess COX-2 expression in hippocampal biopsies from patients with therapy-refractive temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). For this purpose, hippocampal CA1 subfield was dissected from epileptic patients with (n=5) or without (n=2) hippocampal sclerosis (HS). COX-2 expression was investigated using immunohistochemistry and semi-quantitative RT-PCR. COX-2 immunoreactivity in TLE patient material in the absence of HS was restricted to a few neurons of the hippocampus. In the presence of HS, on the other hand, a significant induction of astrocytic COX-2 immunoreactivity associated with a concomitant increase in the steady-state level of COX-2 mRNA was observed in the CA1 subfield. These findings suggest that induction of astrocytic COX-2 is implicated in the pathogenesis of HS in TLE and is consistent with the previous findings of increased concentrations of prostaglandins in the cerebrospinal fluid of these patients.