Prostaglandins have acid antisecretory and cytoprotective effects in gastric mucosa when given exogenously. This study's purpose was to isolate preparations of parietal and non-parietal cells from rat stomachs and to compare prostaglandin output by these cells. Gastric epithelial cells were isolated from rat stomachs using pronase. Cells from different incubation times were collected separately and enriched by discontinuous Percoll gradient. Cell types were identified by hematoxylin and eosin stain, succinic dehydrogenase activity (parietal cells), periodic acid Schiff staining (mucous cells), Bowie staining (chief cells) and electron microscopy. Prostaglandin E2 activity was measured by radio-immunoassay. Parietal cells were purified to over 90% while the non-parietal preparation contained 67% chief cells and over 31% mucous cells. By electron-microscopy, cell integrity was seen to be maintained. The parietal cell enriched fraction contained two and one-half times the amount of prostaglandin E2 that the non-parietal chief cell enriched fraction did, p less than 0.01. These results raise the question as to whether output of PGE2 by parietal cells could play a role in modulating gastric acid secretion directly by parietal cells as well as in protecting the deeper layers of gastric mucosa against damaging agents in-vivo.