Placenta microsomes prepared from animals late in gestation (29 days) efficiently metabolize arachidonic acid into PGE2, PGF2α, PGD2, PGD2, TxA2 and little or no prostacyclin. In contrast to the late gestation placenta, the early (17 day) placental microsomes synthesize primarily PGE2. The cytosolic (100, 000 × g supernatant) fraction from early or late gestation placentae converted arachidonic acid, with a calcium dependent enzyme, into non-polar metabolites whose synthesis was inhibited by ETYA but not indomethacin. These metabolites were purified by HPLC and GC-MS analysis indicated the presence of 12-hydroxy-, 15-hydroxy-, and 11-hydroxy-eicosatetraenoic acid. The mitochondrial (8,000 × g pellet) produced PGE2; PGF2α; 12-. 11-, 15-HETE; the C-17 fragment HHT; and the unusual cyclooxygenase metabolite 15-keto-PGE2. These biologically active metabolites may play a vital role in the reproductive function of the placenta.