Arachidonic acid (5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid), a member of the omega-6 poly-unsaturated fatty acids, was found to be an effective stimulator of human prostate cancer cell growth in vitro at micromolar concentrations. Selective blockade of the different metabolic pathways of arachidonic acid (e.g. ibuprofen for cyclooxygenase, SKF-525A for cytochrome P-450, baicalein and BHPP for 12-lipoxygenase, AA861 and MK886 for 5-lipoxygenase, etc.) revealed that the growth stimulatory effect of arachidonic acid is inhibited by the 5-lipoxygenase specific inhibitors, AA861 and MK886, but not by others. Addition of the eicosatetraenoid products of 5-lipoxygenase (5-HETEs) showed stimulation of prostate cancer cell growth similar to that of arachidonic acid, whereas the leukotrienes were ineffective. Moreover, the 5-series of eicosatetraenoids could reverse the growth inhibitory effect of MK886. Finally, prostate cancer cells fed with arachidonic acid showed a dramatic increase in the production of 5-HETEs which is effectively blocked by MK886. These experimental observations suggest that arachidonic acid needs to be metabolized through the 5-lipoxygenase pathway to produce 5-HETE series of eicosatetraenoids for its growth stimulatory effects on human prostate cancer cells.