The anti-apoptotic effect of PGE(2) was examined in Jurkat cells (human T-cell leukemia) by incubation with PGE(2) (5 nM) prior to treatment with the cancer chemotherapeutic agent camptothecin. Apoptosis was evaluated by caspase-3 activity in cell extracts and flow cytometry of propidium iodide-labeled cells. Pre-incubation with PGE(2) reduced camptothecin-induced caspase activity by 30% and apoptosis by 35%, respectively. Pharmacological data demonstrate that the EP4 receptor is responsible for mediating the protection from camptothecin-induced apoptosis. Pre-treatment of the cells with the EP4 antagonist (EP4A) prior to PGE(2) and camptothecin abolished the increased survival effect of PGE(2). Specific inhibition of the downstream of PI3 kinase or AKT/protein kinase but not protein kinase A prevents the observed increase in cell survival elicited by PGE(2). These findings have critical implications regarding the mechanism and potential application of PGE(2) receptor specific inhibition in cancer therapy.