The effect of amniotic fluid obtained from second trimester (16-20 wks) and term pregnancies (38-41 wks) on the production of PGE and F by human amnion, decidua and myometrium at term was determined using tissue slices incubated in vitro. Midpregnancy amniotic fluid neither inhibited nor stimulated the prostanoid production by any of the tissues. In contrast, term amniotic fluid obtained before as well as after the onset of labor markedly increased the production of both PGE and PGF in decidua and myometrium from levels in Krebs solution. The prostanoid production (PGE + PGF) in amnion was not significantly increased but the proportion of PGF was raised during incubations in term amniotic fluid. In decidua and myometrium the increase in PGE and PGF production in term amniotic fluid was approximately 200 and 400 percent respectively, from control values in Krebs solution. We propose that the stimulatory activity in term amniotic fluid is responsible for the accelerated synthesis of prostaglandins after rupture of membranes, which is reflected in raised PGF metabolite levels in maternal circulation. It may also be the reason for the rise in amniotic fluid prostaglandin levels around the 35th week of gestation, and perhaps for the onset of labor.