Prostaglandins are potent mediators of the inflammatory response and are also involved in cancer development. In this study, we show that human melanocytes and FM55 melanoma cells express cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (COX-1 and -2) and thus have the capability to produce prostaglandins. The FM55 cells produced predominantly PGE2 and PGF2alpha, whereas the HaCaT keratinocyte cell line produced mainly PGE2. The anti-inflammatory peptide, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), reduced prostaglandin production in FM55 and HaCaT cells and reversed the effect of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha in the former. These results indicate that melanocytes produce prostaglandins and that alpha-MSH, by inhibiting this response, may play an important role in regulating inflammatory responses in the skin.