Expression of mRNAs encoding the two prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase (PGHS) isoenzymes (PGHS-1 and -2) was investigated in differentiating clonal Ob1771 mouse preadipocytes and in mouse adipose tissues. Northern analysis revealed that the expression level of PGHS-1 mRNA was reduced by 98 ± 0.2% (P < 0.01) during differentiation of Ob1771 cells, whereas PGHS-2 mRNA was not detected. By reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction analysis, however, both PGHS-1 and -2 mRNA was detected in Ob1771 preadipose cells. In addition, mRNAs encoding both isoforms were markedly expressed in primary adipose precursor cells with considerably lower expression levels in mature adipocytes (56-75% reduction, P < 0.01). Furthermore, exposure to dexamethasone (10 nM) for both 24 h (explants of adipose tissue) and 48 h (Ob1771 adipose cells) resulted in enhanced expression of PGHS-1 mRNA, whereas expression of PGHS-2 mRNA in explants of adipose tissue (24 h incubation) was reduced by 83 ± 9% (P < 0.05). In contrast, exposure to angiotensin II (100 nM) enhanced expression of PGHS-1 mRNA both in mature adipocytes (4 h incubation) and explants of adipose tissue (24 h incubation), and elevated PGHS-2 mRNA expression in mature adipocytes (4 h incubation). In conclusion, this report suggests a differential expression of PGHS mRNAs during adipose cell differentiation, and further suggests that the machinery for prostaglandin synthesis in mature adipocytes may be induced by various hormones.