Although a number of sPLA2 (secretory phospholipase A2) enzymes have been identified in mammals, the localization and functions of individual enzymes in human pathologic tissues still remain obscure. In the present study, we have examined the expression and function of sPLA2s in human lung-derived cells and in human lungs with pneumonia. Group IID, V and X sPLA2s were expressed in cultured human bronchial epithelial cells (BEAS-2B) and normal human pulmonary fibroblasts with distinct requirement for cytokines (interleukin-1b, tumour necrosis factor a and interferon-g). Lentivirus- or adenovirus-mediated transfection of various sPLA2s into BEAS-2B or normal human pulmonary fibroblast cells revealed that group V and X sPLA2s increased arachidonate release and prostaglandin production in both cell types, whereas group IIA and IID sPLA2s failed to do so. Immunohistochemistry of human lungs with pneumonia demonstrated that group V and X sPLA2s were widely expressed in the airway epithelium, interstitium and alveolar macrophages, in which group IID sPLA2 was also positive, whereas group IIA sPLA2 was restricted to the pulmonary arterial smooth muscle layers and bronchial chondrocytes, and group IIE and IIF sPLA2s were minimally detected. These results suggest that group V and X sPLA2s affect lung pathogenesis by facilitating arachidonate metabolism or possibly through other functions.