Cercariae of Schistosoma mansoni produce a wide variety of eicosanoids when stimulated by 3.3 mM linoleate. High-performance liquid chromatography indicated that 10(-5) M esculetin dramatically decreased eicosanoid production by cercariae. Ibuprofen (10(-4) M) also decreased eicosanoid production, but to a lesser extent. These results were confirmed by radioimmunoassay using time-dose curves for esculetin and time curves for ibuprofen. The results reported here indicated that, for cercariae, ibuprofen was neither a specific cyclo-oxygenase inhibitor, as has been reported for platelet and endothelial cells, nor was esculetin a specific inhibitor of lipoxygenase, as has been reported for platelets and mastocytoma cells. Rather, both drugs inhibited cyclo-oxygenase and lipoxygenase enzyme systems. Further, the data indicated that two forms of cyclo-oxygenase exist in cercariae (isozymes?), one initiating the conversion of gamma-dihomolinolenate into the 1-series prostaglandins and another acting on arachidonate forming the 2-series prostaglandins. The cyclo-oxygenase acting on arachidonate has a greater sensitivity to both ibuprofen and esculetin than the enzyme acting on gamma-dihomolinolenate. Cercarial lipoxygenases also varied greatly in their sensitivity to ibuprofen.