Influenza virus (IV) infection causes airway inflammation; however, it has not been determined whether IV infection could catabolize arachidonic acid cascade in airway epithelial cells. In addition, the responsible intracellular signalling molecules that catabolize arachidonic acid cascade have not been determined. In the present study, to clarify these issues, we examined the cyclooxygenase (COX) expression, cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) phosphorylation and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) release in human bronchial epithelial cells (BEC) upon IV infection, and the role of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) including extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p38 MAPK and c-Jun-NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) in catabolizing arachidonic acid cascade in BEC. COX-2 expression, phosphorylation of cPLA2 and phosphorylation of ERK, JNK and p38 MAPK were determined by Western blot. The concentrations of PGE2 were determined by ELISA. PD 98059 as a specific inhibitor of MAPK kinase-1 (MEK-1), an up-stream kinase of ERK, SB 203580 as a specific inhibitor of p38 MAPK and CEP-11004 as a specific inhibitor of JNK cascade were used to investigate the role of ERK, p38 MAPK and JNK in catabolizing arachidonic acid cascade in BEC. The results showed that (1) IV infection increases COX-2 expression, cPLA2 phosphorylation and PGE2 release, (2) ERK, p38 MAPK and JNK were phosphorylated, (3) CEP-11004 and PD 98059 predominantly attenuated COX-2 expression and cPLA2 phosphorylation, respectively, (4) SB 203580 did not remarkably affect COX-2 expression and cPLA2 phosphorylation, and (5) each inhibitor dose-dependently attenuated PGE2 release by various extents. These results indicate that IV infection activates three distinct MAPKs, ERK, p38 MAPK and JNK, to participate to various extents in the induction of PGE2 synthesis from arachidonic acid in BEC.