The prostaglandin endoperoxide H synthase isoform 2, cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2), is induced at high levels in migratory and other responding cells by pro-inflammatory stimuli. COX-2 is generally considered to be a mediator of inflammation. Its isoform, COX-1, is constitutively expressed in most tissues and is thought to mediate "housekeeping" functions. These two enzymes are therapeutic targets of the widely used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). To investigate further the different physiologic roles of these isoforms, we have used homologous recombination to disrupt the mouse gene encoding COX-2 (Ptgs2). Mice lacking COX-2 have normal inflammatory responses to treatments with tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate or with arachidonic acid. However, they develop severe nephropathy and are susceptible to peritonitis.