The object of this study was to determine whether prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) can prevent disuse (underloading)-induced cancellous bone loss. Thirteen-month-old retired female Sprague-Dawley breeders served as controls or were subjected to right hindlimb immobilization by bandaging and simultaneously treated subcutaneously daily with 0, 1, 3, or 6 mg PGE2/kg/d for two and six weeks. Histomorphometric analyses were performed on the cancellous bone using double-fluorescent labeled, 20 micron thick, undecalcified distal femoral metaphysis sections. We found that PGE2 administration not only prevented diuse-induced bone loss, but also added extra bone to disuse cancellous bone in a dose-response manner. PGE2 prevented the disuse-induced osteopenia by stimulating more bone formation than resorption and shortening the period of bone remodeling. It activated woven bone formation, stimulated lamellar bone formation, and increased the eroded bone surface above that caused by disuse alone. While underloading increased the remodeling period (sigma), PGE2 treatment of underloaded bone shortened the time for osteoclastic bone resorption and bone remodeling, and thus reduced the remodeling space. The study shows that PGE2 is a powerful anabolic agent that prevents disuse-induced osteopenia and adds extra bone to these same bones.