Arachidonic acid (AA) metabolites may play an important role in the pathogenesis of cerebral vasospasm which complicate subarachnoid hemorrhage. Authors have studied levels of 4 major AA metabolites in lumbar CSF samples and in CSF collected from perianeurismatic cisterns of 40 patients admitted with diagnosis of subarachnoid hemorrhage. Lumbar levels of AA metabolites are significantly higher in SAH patients than in control cases; moreover, cisternal CSF levels of PGD2, TxB2 and LTC4 are significantly higher than lumbar levels. Cisternal CSF levels (expressed in pg/ml +/- SEM) are in the "spasm" group: PGD2: 1129.62 +/- 146.33; 6-keto-PGF1 alpha: 214.2 +/- 19.96; TxB2: 4350.25 +/- 656.87; LTC4: 2582.19 +/- 381.83. In the "no spasm" group: PGD2 460.1 +/- 55.89; 6-keto-PGF1 alpha: 306.37 +/- 88.74; TxB2: 5752.5 +/- 899.25; LTC4: 812.92 +/- 142.06. Statistical analysis (paired t-test) shows values significantly higher for cisternal levels of PGD2 (P less than 0.005) and LTC4 (P less than 0.005) in patients presenting vasospasm. This suggests the importance of the subarachnoidal clot as a source of vasoactive compounds. Higher levels of leukotriene C4 in patients presenting vasospasm suggest a role for the compound in the genesis of local inflammatory processes and morphological changes of the arterial wall.