This study investigates the regulation of prostaglandin (PG) synthesis in the ovaries of sexually‐mature zebrafish (
Danio rerio). We examined the ovarian expression of genes within the arachidonic acid (AA) pathway, and the ovarian levels of 17α,20β‐dihydroxy‐4‐pregnen‐3‐one (17α,20β‐P), 17β‐estradiol (E2), and PGF2α in spawning and nonspawning fish during the ovulatory cycle. Real‐time RT‐PCR analysis revealed that the expression levels of cytosolic phospholipase A2 ( cpla2) and cyclooxygenases (COX)‐2 ( ptgs2) in ovarian fragments and in isolated full‐grown follicles of spawning fish were highest at 6:00 when ovulation was expected to occur. In nonspawning fish, cpla2expression levels declined over time while ptgs2expression displayed the same temporal pattern as in spawning fish. Elevated levels of 17α,20β‐P in the spawning fish occurred at 3:30, but there were no changes in the nonspawning fish. In other studies conducted to investigate the hormonal regulation of AA pathway genes, fish exposed via the water for 24 or 96 hr to 17α,20β‐P or E2 exhibited reduced ovarian expression levels of COX‐1 ( ptgs1) and PG E synthase‐2 ( ptgsl), and E2 reduced the expression of cpla2. Injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) (100 IU) led to increased expression levels of cpla2and ptgs2at 2 and 18 hr post‐treatment, but consistently reduced ptgs1and ptgslexpression. In these fish, ovarian levels of 17α,20β‐P were elevated at all time points and PGF2α levels in the hCG‐treated group were significantly higher than the control fish at 18 hr. Collectively, these in vivo results suggest that gonadotropins and steroids are involved in the regulation of the AA pathway in ovarian follicles of zebrafish. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 76: 1064–1075, 2009. © 2009 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.