Abstract Epilobium species have been used as remedies in folk-medicine for the treatment of pathophysiological processes of the prostata. In this paper the influence of extracts of Herba Epilobii angustifolii L. and Herba Epilobii parviflori Schreb. on prostaglandin biosynthesis and the carrageenin rat paw oedema is described. Aqueous extracts of Herba E. angustifolii reduced the release of prostaglandins I 2, E 2 and D 2 (in the perfused rabbit ear) approximately 5 times more effectively than did similar extracts of Herba E. parviflori. Methanolic extracts were inactive. The aqueous extract of E. angustifolium strongly reduced the carrageenin-induced rat paw oedema whereas that of E. parviflorum was inactive. The chemical nature of the active compound(s) is as yet unknown but flavonoids and sitosterol derivatives can be excluded.