Francisella tularensis is a highly infectious bacterial pathogen, and is likely to have evolved strategies to evade and subvert the host immune response. In this study, we show that F. tularensis infection of macrophages alters T cell responses in vitro, by blocking T cell proliferation and promoting a Th2-like response. We demonstrate that a soluble mediator is responsible for this effect and identify it as PGE(2). Supernatants from F. tularensis-infected macrophages inhibited IL-2 secretion from both MHC class I and MHC class II-restricted T cell hybridomas, as well as enhanced a Th2-like response by inducing increased production of IL-5. Furthermore, the soluble mediator blocked proliferation of naive MHC class I-restricted T cells when stimulated with cognate tetramer. Indomethacin treatment partially restored T cell proliferation and lowered IL-5 production to wild-type levels. Macrophages produced PGE(2) when infected with F. tularensis, and treatment of infected macrophages with indomethacin, a cyclooxygenase-1/cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitor, blocked PGE(2) production. To further demonstrate that PGE(2) was responsible for skewing of T cell responses, we infected macrophages from membrane PGE synthase 1 knockout mice (mPGES1(-/-)) that cannot produce PGE(2). Supernatants from F. tularensis-infected membrane PGE synthase 1(-/-) macrophages did not inhibit T cell proliferation. Furthermore, treatment of T cells with PGE(2) recreated the effects seen with infected supernatant. From these data, we conclude that F. tularensis can alter host T cell responses by causing macrophages to produce PGE(2). This study defines a previously unknown mechanism used by F. tularensis to modulate adaptive immunity.