We have studied prostaglandin E1-induced mechanical hyperalgesia in the rat hindpaw, by assessing paw-withdrawal thresholds, before and after injecting prostaglandin E1 alone or with other agents, in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. In normal and diabetic rats, prostaglandin E1 (1-1000 ng) produced a dose-dependent decrease in mechanical nociceptive threshold. In diabetic rats, prostaglandin E1 was more potent than in normal rats, in producing hyperalgesia, whereas prostaglandin E2 hyperalgesia was not changed in normal and diabetic rats. Prostaglandin E1-induced hyperalgesia was not inhibited by E-type 1 prostaglandin receptor antagonists, SC19220 or SC51089, either in normal or diabetic rats. In fact, in the presence of SC19220, prostaglandin E1 produced enhanced hyperalgesia, in normal rats. Prostaglandin E1 hyperalgesia was not significantly modified by sympathectomy or indomethacin. Unlike prostaglandin E2, prostaglandin E1 hyperalgesia was not blocked by the inhibitor of the stimulatory guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory protein, guanosine 5'-O-(2-thiodiphosphate). It is suggested that prostaglandin E1 decreases primary afferent nociceptive threshold directly, by activating a prostaglandin receptor other than the E-type 1 prostaglandin receptor, and that this receptor is not coupled to a stimulatory guanine nucleotide-binding regulatory protein.