Antitumor properties and participation in inflammatory events are important characteristics of activated macrophages. We show here that both antitumor cytostatic function of macrophages and participation of these cells at inflammatory sites are controlled by two main groups of mediators: cytokines (IL-1, TNF alpha) and eicosanoids (prostanoids and leukotrienes). These two groups of mediators represent a complex system of mutual interactions in regulation of their production and activities. Multiple sets of experiments with murine macrophages are discussed in favor of the views that PGE2 and lipoxygenase products oppose each other's actions, and that the regulating role of PGE2 in the secretions of cytokines are of pivotal importance in antitumor cytostasis of macrophages in vitro. Such observations can be extended to a situation ex vivo, showing that human macrophages harvested from inflammatory sites have markedly augmented cytostatic expression. It thus appears that the antitumor cytostatic function of macrophages is related to the production of inflammatory mediators by these cells. Accordingly, it might be that occurrence of inflammation in tumor-bearing individuals plays a role in the promotion of antitumor activity of macrophages.