Recent in vitro studies have suggested that magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) infusions may increase prostacyclin production. We studied the effect of MgSO4 infusion on prostacyclin (PGI2) metabolite excretion in women with either pregnancy induced hypertension or preterm labor. Excretion of renal and systemic metabolites of PGI2 was measured prior to and following the start of MgSO4 infusion in the two groups. An increased in renal PGI2 metabolite preterm labor excretion was noted in the hypertension group but no change was noted in systemic PGI2 excretion in either group. These data fail to support a generalized, short term increase in endothelial cell PGI2 production as the basis for the beneficial effect of MgSO4.