OBJECTIVE Fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin can induce tendon pathology and have various effects on tendon-derived cells in culture. We are investigating whether ciprofloxacin modifies signalling responses in tendon cells. METHODS Human Achilles tendon-derived cells were preincubated with or without ciprofloxacin (50 mug/ml) and were then challenged with interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta, 1 ng/ml) for up to 48 h. Prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) output was assayed by ELISA. The expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) was examined by Western blotting. RESULTS IL-1beta stimulated a substantial and prolonged increase in the output of PGE2. Preincubation with ciprofloxacin reduced IL-1beta-induced PGE2 output at all times tested; the reduction at 48 h was 69% (99% confidence interval 59-79%; 15 experiments). Norfloxacin and ofloxacin also reduced PGE2 output. However, ciprofloxacin did not affect the induction of COX-2 by IL-1beta, measured at 4 or 48 h. CONCLUSIONS Ciprofloxacin reduces IL-1beta-induced PGE2 output in tendon-derived cells. The reduction in PGE2 output could modulate various cellular activities of IL-1beta, and may be implicated in fluoroquinolone-induced tendinopathy.