Effects of prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and indomethacin, an inhibitor of PGE2 oxygenase, on primary and secondary antibody (Ab) responses to Mycobacterium butyricum protein or keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) were studied in growing layer hens. Immunizations at 35 and 70 d of age were accompanied by immunomodulating treatments with PGE2, indomethacin, or PBS. In addition, we studied effects of various doses of indomethacin and PGE2 on mitogen-induced T-cell proliferation in vitro. Secondary Ab responses to KLH were enhanced by administration of indomethacin at secondary immunization and, to a lesser extent, by PGE2 administration at secondary immunization. Primary Ab responses to M. butyricum tended to decrease by administration of either PGE2 or indomethacin. Secondary Ab responses to M. butyricum were affected by administration of both PGE2 and indomethacin at primary immunization. Prostaglandin E2 increased phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-induced lymphocyte proliferation. Indomethacin decreased Concanavalin A (ConA)- and PHA-induced lymphocyte proliferation. The net effect of indomethacin on the Ab response could not be explained by inhibition of PGE2 oxygenase only. Our data rather suggest an inhibition by indomethacin of other immunosuppressing factors derived from arachidonic acid. We concluded that polyunsaturated fatty acid-derived products might especially affect secondary antibody responsiveness. This finding may depend on inhibition or enhancement of T-cell responsiveness. Consequently, immunomodulation by dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids may have profound effects at secondary rather than at primary exposure to pathogens.