The roles of prostaglandins and lysosomal proteases in accelerated skeletal muscle proteolysis during sepsis are not yet fully understood. In this study rats received intraperitoneal injections of the prostaglandin synthesis inhibitor indomethacin (IND, 5.0 mg/kg), the lysosomal cathepsin B inhibitor leupeptin (LEU, 2.5 mg/kg), or normal saline 2 hr before cecal ligation and puncture (a model of intraabdominal sepsis) or sham-operation. The injections were repeated every 6 hr for a total of four doses. Sixteen hours after operation, intact extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were harvested and cathepsin B activity was measured in one muscle. The contralateral muscle was incubated in oxygenated Krebs-Henseleit bicarbonate buffer containing glucose (10 mM) and cycloheximide (0.5 mM), and protein degradation rate was determined as the release of tyrosine into the incubation medium. Both muscle cathepsin B activity and protein degradation rate were higher in septic than in sham-operated rats. Treatment with IND or LEU significantly reduced the elevated cathepsin B activity in septic muscles, but failed to significantly alter muscle proteolysis. In nonseptic muscle, both cathepsin B activity and protein degradation rate were unaffected by the different types of treatment. The results suggest that although prostaglandins may influence muscle lysosomal protease activity, neither prostaglandins nor the lysosomal protease cathepsin B appear to be major regulators of accelerated muscle protein breakdown during sepsis.