When human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNL) were incubated with exogenous 14C-arachidonic acid (14C-AA), both lipoxygenase and cyclo-oxygenase metabolites were detected. The amount of the 5-lipoxygenase metabolites formed, including 5-hydroxy-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid (5-HETE), was small. The amount of other mono-HETE's (migrating in the vicinity of 12-HETE) was greater, but this was obviously mainly due to the small amount of contaminating platelets. In the presence of calcium ionophore A23187 the rate of formation of 5-HETE was increased, but the formation of other metabolites remained unchanged. When PMNL were incubated with aspirin in the presence of A23187 the formation of the cyclo-oxygenase products was decreased but that of 5-HETE was unchanged. The present study indicates that the calcium ionophore A23187 stimulates specifically the 5-lipoxygenase in human PMNL and that aspirin has no effect on the formation of the 5-lipoxygenase metabolites of arachidonic acid in human PMNL.