Production of prostaglandin E (PGE) by rheumatoid synovium appears important to regulation of the pathologic process in rheumatoid arthritis. Cells derived from human synovium by proteolytic digestion produce large amounts of PGE which in turn can elevate synovial cell cAMP levels and inhibit cell proliferation. Data presented here indicate that cAMP can further increase production of PGE from adherent synovial cells (ASC). PGE production occurs over 12-72 hr and is not due to the ability of cAMP to inhibit cell proliferation. Exposure of cells to cAMP results in increased release of 3H arachidonic acid from precursors but not in activation of the cyclooxygenase enzyme. This phenomenon suggests the presence in adherent synovial cells of a mechanism for amplifying PGE production.