Interstitial fluid flow may play a role in load-induced bone remodeling. Previously, we have shown that fluid flow stimulates osteoblast production of cAMP inositol trisphosphate (IP3), and PGE2. Flow-induced increases in cAMP and IP3 were shown to be a result of PG production. Thus, PGE2 production appears to be an important component in fluid flow induced signal transduction. In the present study, we investigated the mechanism of flow-induced PGE2 synthesis. Flow-induced a 20-fold increase in PGE2 production in osteoblasts. Increases were also observed with ALF4-(10mM) (98-fold), an activator of guanidine nucleotide-binding proteins (G proteins), and calcium ionophore A23187 (2 microM) (100-fold) in stationary cells. We then investigated whether flow stimulation is mediated by G proteins and increases in intracellular calcium. Flow-induced PGE2 production was inhibited by the G protein inhibitors GDP beta S (100 microM) and pertussis toxin (1 microgram/ml) by 83% and 72%, respectively. Chelation of extracellular calcium by EGTA (2 mM) and intracellular calcium by quin-2/AM (30 microM) blocked flow stimulation by 87% and 67%, respectively. These results suggest that G proteins and calcium play an important role in mediating mechanochemical signal transduction in osteoblasts.