In vitro, prostaglandins (PG) have strong inhibitory effects on T cell activation and proliferation and inhibitors of PG synthesis (NSAID) increase proliferation and activation of T cells. Although most studies have failed to demonstrate cyclooxygenase (COX) activity in lymphocytes, there is contradictory evidence on the synthesis of different PG. We have studied by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blot the expression of COX-1 and -2 mRNA and protein in resting and activated peripheral blood or Jurkat T cells. Cells were activated by T cell receptor triggering with OKT3 antibodies and activation confirmed by flow cytometric analysis of surface CD69. COX enzymatic activity was measured by determination of arachidonic acid (AA)-induced PG synthesis. Both peripheral blood and Jurkat T cells expressed COX-1 and -2 mRNA and protein. COX-1 was constitutively expressed and did not change after OKT3 stimulation. COX-2 was inducible upon OKT3-induced activation. In spite of the presence of COX mRNA and immunoreactive protein, AA-induced PG synthesis was not detected at the EIA detection (pM) level. The potential role of cyclooxygenases in T cells deserves further study, since no PG of the studied series seem to be synthesized by T cells.