We have previously demonstrated that administration of oestrogen, at doses sufficient to raise serum concentrations to those seen in late pregnancy, increases trabecular bone formation in the metaphysis of adult rats. To determine whether prostaglandins (PGs), which have been shown to induce osteogenesis in vivo, play a role in the induction of bone formation by oestrogen, 13-week-old female rats were given daily doses of 4 mg 17β-oestradiol (OE2)/kg for 17 days, alone or with indomethacin (1 mg/kg). The rats were also given double fluorochrome labels and at the end of the experiment tibias were subjected to histomorphometric assessment. Treatment with OE2 suppressed longitudinal bone growth and increased uterine wet weight, as expected, and neither response was affected by indomethacin. Oestrogen also induced a threefold increase in trabecular bone formation in the proximal tibial metaphysis, which resulted in a substantial increase in trabecular bone volume. As previously observed, the increase in bone formation was predominantly due to an increase in osteoblast recruitment (as judged by an increase in the percentage of bone surface showing double fluorochrome labels), with only a minor increase in the activity of mature osteoblasts (as judged by the mineral apposition rate). Indomethacin abolished the increase in osteoblastic recruitment, but the activity of mature osteoblastic cells remained high. The bone formation rate and bone volume remained similar to controls. The results suggest that PG production may be necessary for the increased osteoblastic recruitment induced by oestrogen, but not to mediate the effects of oestrogen on the activity of mature osteoblasts.