The role that thromboxane A2 plays in contractions induced by leukotriene D4 in guinea-pig isolated lung parenchyma was investigated under equilibrium conditions. Lung tissue generated thromboxane A2 and prostacyclin spontaneously as evidenced by the slow accumulation of their biologically inactive metabolites, thromboxane B2 and 6-keto-prostaglandin F1α, in the bathing buffer. Challenge of guinea-pig lung parenchyma with a high concentration (EC90 for tension generation) of leukotriene D4 (200 nM) produced a biphasic contraction of the tissue that consisted of an initial rapid increase in isometric tension followed by a slowly developing, well-sustained contracture. In addition, leukotriene D4 (200 nM) effected a transient increase (over basal) in the generation of thromboxane A2 and prostacyclin that lagged significantly behind the tension response. Kinetic analysis of the mechanical and eicosanoid-generating effect of leukotriene D4 revealed that tension development could be suitably fitted to a biexponential function, whilst the release of both eicosanoids from the lung occurred monoexponentially. Pretreatment of the lung with the cyclooxygenase inhibitor, flurbiprofen, which effectively abolished both the spontaneous and the leukotriene D4-stimulated eicosanoid biosynthesis, significantly reduced both the first order rate coefficient of the first exponent and the maximum amplitude of this function with respect to control. This change in the kinetics describing leukotriene D4-induced contractions was explained by the fact that the initial rate of tension development was markedly reduced following pretreatment of the lung with flurbiprofen. Neither the inhibitor of thromboxane synthetase, dazmegrel, which selectively inhibited (by 95%) leukotriene D4-stimulated thromboxane A2 formation, nor blockade of 11α,9α-epoxymethano-prostaglandin H2 (U-46619)-sensitive (thromboxane A2) receptors with either AH 23848 or EP 092 affected the profile of leukotriene D4-induced tension development in guinea-pig lung. It is concluded that a high concentration of leukotriene D4 (200 nM) contracts guinea-pig lung by both a direct and indirect mechanism. Initially, a rapid short-lived contraction of the lung is manifest which is dependent, in part, upon the synthesis and release of cyclooxygenase product(s) other than thromboxane A2. This initial response occurs coincidently with, and is subsequently followed by, the development of a tonic well-sustained contracture that is the result of a direct action of leukotriene D4 on the contractile cells that comprise the lung.