Cyclooxygenase (COX), the key enzyme required for the conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins was first identified over 20 years ago. Drugs, like aspirin, that inhibit cyclooxygenase activity have been available to the public for about 100 years. In the past decade, however, more progress has been made in understanding the role of cyclooxygenase enzymes in biology and disease than at any other time in history. Two cyclooxygenase isoforms have been identified and are referred to as COX-1 and COX-2. Under many circumstances the COX-1 enzyme is produced constitutively (i.e., gastric mucosa) whereas COX-2 is inducible (i.e., sites of inflammation). Here, we summarize the current understanding of the role of cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 in different physiological situations and disease processes ranging from inflammation to cancer. We have attempted to include all of the most relevant material in the field, but due to the rapid progress in this area of research we apologize that certain recent findings may have been left out.