A major action of oxytocin is to stimulate prostaglandin production in reproductive tissues. The two major enzyme systems involved are cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2), which catalyses the formation of arachidonic acid from membrane glycerophospholipids, and prostaglandin endoperoxide-H synthases-1 and -2, which allow conversion of arachidonic acid to prostaglandins. During gestation, the concentrations of all three enzymes rise in the rabbit amnion. Agonists, including oxytocin, increase cPLA2 activity, in part, by elevating intracellular Ca2+ concentration, which causes cPLA2 to be translocated from the cytosol to intracellular membrane binding sites. Cytosolic PLA2 is then activated by a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent step. Our studies have elucidated signal pathways involved in oxytocin-stimulated prostaglandin output in both rabbit amnion cells and Chinese hamster ovary cells stably transfected with the rat oxytocin receptor. The two cell types are alike with respect to oxytocin-stimulated intracellular Ca2+ transients, mediation via Gq, and the specific MAPK that catalyses the phosphorylation of cPLA2. However, they differ with respect to the mechanisms of upregulation of key enzymes involved in prostaglandin E2 synthesis. These findings illustrate the tiers of complementary mechanisms involved in oxytocin stimulation of prostaglandin E2, and the extent of the diversity in the cellular signalling pathways involved.