A number of studies have identified cytosolic prostaglandin E(2) synthase (cPGES)/p23 as a cytoplasmic protein capable of metabolism of prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) from the cyclooxygenase metabolite prostaglandin endoperoxide (PGH(2)). However, this protein has also been implicated in a number of other pathways, including stabilization of the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) complex. To define the importance of the functions assigned to this protein, mice lacking detectible cPGES/p23 expression were generated. cPGES/p23(-/-) pups die during the perinatal period and display retarded lung development reminiscent of the phenotype of GR-deficient neonates. Furthermore, GR-sensitive gluconeogenic enzymes are not induced in the prenatal period. However, unlike GR-deficient embryos, cPGES/p23(-/-) embryos are small and a proliferation defect is observed in cPGES/p23(-/-) fibroblasts. Analysis of arachidonic acid metabolites in embryonic tissues and primary fibroblasts failed to support a function for this protein in PGE(2) biosynthesis. Thus, while the growth retardation of the cPGES/p23(-/-) pups and decreased proliferation of primary fibroblasts identify functions for this protein in addition to GR stabilization, it is unlikely that these functions include metabolism of PGH(2) to PGE(2).