Prostanoids represent a group of lipid mediators that are produced from arachidonic acid via the cyclooxygenase pathway. Once formed, the prostanoids are released from the cells and act on their cognate receptors on cell surfaces to exert their biological actions. Of these, prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) is the most common prostanoid, being produced by a wide variety of cells and tissues and has a broad range of bioactivity. Recent advance in this field has led to identification and characterization of a number of enzymes that play roles in the biosynthesis of PGE(2), namely phospholipase A(2), cyclooxygenase and terminal PGE synthase. Each of these three reactions can be rate-limiting and involves multiple enzymes/isozymes that can act in different phases of cell activation and exhibit distinct functional coupling. In this review, we will overview a recent understanding of the molecular biology, regulatory mechanisms, and physiological functions of these enzymes.