Homogenates of tissues from fetal and neonatal lamb ductus arteriosus, aorta and pulmonary artery have the capacity to convert arachidonic acid as well as the intermediate prostaglandin endoperoxide, prostaglandin H2, into three products: prostaglandins E2, F2alpha and a major product 6-ketoprostaglandin F1alpha. The three tissues also displayed prostaglandin 15-hydroxydehydrogenase and 13-reductase catabolic activities. The catabolishing system showed considerable substrate specificity: prostaglandin E1 was a good substrate whereas prostaglandins F1alpha and F2alpha were completely devoid of catabolism. The complete system was observed in immature as well as mature arterial vessels, in the fetus as well as the neonate (up to 7 days old). These experiments demonstrate the presence of several components of the prostaglandin system in these tissues and offer biochemical evidence for the implication of prostaglandins E2 and I2 in the maintenance of the ductus and neighboring vessels in a relaxed state in the fetus.