Studies of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of concanavalin A (ConA)-induced liver injury have provided important knowledge on the pathogenesis of many liver diseases involving hepatic inflammation. However, studies identifying hepato-protective factors based on the mechanistic understanding of this model are lacking. Evidence suggests that certain prostaglandin (PG) products of cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 provide important anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective functions in some pathophysiological states. In the present study, we demonstrate a protective role of COX-2 derived PGs in ConA-induced liver injury. COX-2(-/-) mice developed much more severe liver damage upon ConA treatment compared with wild-type and COX-1(-/-) mice. Treatment of COX-2(-/-) mice with misoprostol (a PGE(1/2) analog) or beraprost (a PGI(2) analog) significantly decreased ConA-induced liver injury. Data from both in vivo and in vitro experiments demonstrated that misoprostol and beraprost acted directly on hepatic leukocytes, including natural killer (NK)T and T cells, and down-regulated their production of interferon (IFN)-gamma, which are critical in mediating ConA-induced tissue damage. Collectively, the results provide strong evidence that the protective effects of COX-2 within the liver are mediated through the production of PGE(2) and PGI(2), which exert anti-inflammatory functions. These findings suggest that COX-2-derived PGs may have great therapeutic potentials in treating patients with inflammatory liver diseases.