Prostaglandins (PG) have been described as mediators in spinal nociceptive processing after peripheral inflammation. Enzymes essential for PG biosynthesis, cyclooxygenase isozymes COX-1 and COX-2, have not yet been investigated in the spinal cord. In two studies on rats with adjuvant-induced peripheral inflammation levels of mRNA expression of both COX isoforms were analyzed in the lumbar section of the spinal cord using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique. We could show that mRNA of both COX isoforms is expressed constitutively in the spinal cord with COX-2 as the predominant isoform. Six hours after induction of peripheral inflammation, levels of COX-2 mRNA expression were raised significantly in respect to untreated control rats and returned to baseline within 3 days after induction of inflammation. COX-2 might therefore be regarded as the COX isozyme responsible for spinal PG release in nociceptive processing under a peripheral inflammatory stimulus.