Prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) plays a major role in pain processing and hypersensitivity. This study investigated whether PGE(2) levels are increased in the esophageal mucosa after acid infusion and whether increases in PGE(2) are associated with heartburn. Furthermore, expression of the PGE(2) receptor EP1 was investigated in human esophageal mucosa. Fourteen healthy male volunteers were randomized to 30-min lower esophageal acid (1% HCl) or saline perfusion. Before and after acid perfusion, endoscopic biopsies were taken from the distal esophagus. PGE(2) concentration (pg/mg protein) and EP1 mRNA and protein in biopsy samples were measured by ELISA, RT-PCR, and Western blotting. Symptom status of heartburn was evaluated with a validated categorical rating scale with a higher values corresponding to increasing intensity. PGE(2) levels in the esophageal mucosa significantly increased after acid infusion (before vs. after acid infusion: 23.2 ± 8.6 vs. 68.6 ± 18.3, P < 0.05), but not after saline infusion (before vs. after saline infusion: 9.3 ± 2.5 vs. 9.0 ± 3.2, NS). Time to first sensation (min) after acid infusion was less than after saline (saline vs. acid infusion: 22.1 ± 4.1 vs. 5.4 ± 1.5, P < 0.05). Intensity of heartburn in the acid-infusion group was also significantly greater compared with saline (saline vs. acid infusion: 54.3 ± 13.1 vs. 178.5 ± 22.8, P < 0.01). Changes in PGE(2) levels in the esophagus correlated with symptom intensity score (r = 0.80, P = 0.029). EP1 mRNA and protein expression were observed in the normal human esophageal mucosa. Esophageal PGE(2) expression is associated with mucosal acid exposure and heartburn.