Abnormal PG production by placental PG-H synthase (PGHS) is associated with preeclampsia. There are two PGHS isozymes, and their regulation in trophoblasts is presently unknown. We hypothesized that the PGHS isozymes are differentially regulated in human trophohlasts. To test this hypothesis, we transfected primary trophoblasts and JEG3 cells with promoter constructs of either PGHS-1 or PGHS-2 genes. We found that in both cell systems, the basal activity of PGHS-2 promoter was 10- to 30-fold higher than the activity of PGHS-1 promoter. In response to either 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) or 8-bromo-cAMP, we observed an increase in PGHS-2 promoter activity but no change inactivity of PGHS-1 promoter. Similarly, both agents enhanced PGHS-2 expression, as well as prostaglandin E2 production. The activity of PGHS-2 promoter was potentiated by coexpression of protein kinase A and inhibited by coexpression of kinase A inhibitor. Aspirin attenuated the stimulatory effect of TPA on PGHS-2 promoter. We conclude that both PGHS-1 and PGHS-2 promoters are active in trophoblasts. The activity of PGHS-2 promoter is stimulated by either TPA or cAMP, and the stimulatory effect of TPA is attenuated by aspirin. These pathways may play a role in modulation of prostanoid synthesis by trophoblasts.