Human glioblastoma cells secrete factors, such as prostaglandin E (PGE) and transforming growth factor beta type 2, which are capable of suppressing several immune functions. The present study investigated the effect of PGE2 and agents known to increase intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels on 1) the induction of lymphokine-activated killer (LAK) cell activity from the peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) of both normal and glioma patients and on 2) the cytolytic activities of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL's) isolated from malignant gliomas after expansion in vitro with interleukin-2 (IL-2). Cytolytic activity was measured against autologous and allogeneic tumor cells and the natural killer-resistant Daudi cell line. The results demonstrate that PGE2 and agents known to increase intracellular cAMP levels can significantly suppress the IL-2-dependent generation of cytolytic activity from the PBL of normal and glioma patients and from glioblastoma-derived TIL's. The inhibitory effects of these agents could not be reduced by higher concentrations of IL-2 or by cyclic guanosine monophosphate. Although the suppressive effect of PGE2 was most significant during the early stages of LAK cell generation, an inhibitory effect was still evident when PGE2 was added directly to the cytotoxicity assay. Secretion of PGE2 by glioblastoma cells in vivo may regulate both the generation of an immune response and the effectiveness of adoptively transferred immune cells.