The effect of intravenous injections of 5-, 12- and 15-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETE), leukotrienes D4 and E4 (LTD4, LTE4) on tracheal mucous gel layer (TMGL) thickness was assessed in rats. When administered in doses ranging from 0.03 pg to 33 ng per rat, the lipoxygenase metabolites produced significant increases in TMGL thickness. The order of potency of the metabolites was 15-HETE greater than 12-HETE greater than or equal to 5-HETE greater than LTD4 greater than or equal to LTE4. Imidazole (31.6 mg/kg), intravenously, significantly decreased this response. These findings suggest that the mono-HETEs, especially 15-HETE, may be important modulators of airway mucus in the rat.