It is well established that production of prostaglandins by ocular tissues is dependent upon the species. The rabbit iris-ciliary body produces greater amounts of prostaglandins than that of the bovine. To throw more light on the biochemical basis underlying these differences we have compared the fatty acid composition and phospholipases A2 and C activities in rabbit and bovine irides. When the concentration of arachidonic acid is expressed as % of total fatty acids, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol, separated from rabbit iris phospholipids, contained 56, 38 and 18% more arachidonic acid, respectively, than those of the bovine. The total lipid phosphorus in rabbit and bovine iris-ciliary body were found to be 13.74 and 9.34 mumol g-1 wet tissue, respectively. Subcellular fractions, prepared from rabbit iris, contained 30-230% more phospholipase C activity than those of the bovine, and about 5-41 times higher phospholipase A2 activity than those of the bovine. In the rabbit iris microsomal fraction, phospholipase C activity is 33 times higher than that of phospholipase A2. However, the data presented suggest that phospholipase A2, rather than phospholipase C, is the enzyme which is more involved in arachidonic acid release for eicosanoid biosynthesis. These findings suggest that the high contents of arachidonic acid and phospholipases A2 and C in the rabbit iris could contribute to its unique capacity to synthesize and release prostaglandins in the anterior segment as compared to that of other mammalian species.