We have previously reported that cercarial penetration is highly correlated with cercarial production of leukotrienes (LT's) and hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acids (HETE's). Because skin also produces various eicosanoids, we undertook an investigation of skin eicosanoids in various strains of mice and 1 strain of rat in order to ascertain if skin eicosanoids could be correlated to cercarial penetration. SENCAR, ICR, NMRI, A/J, C3H/HeJ, C57Bl/6, ASEBIC, and BALB/c mouse strains were used in this study as well as the SD-Rat strain. The ability of cercariae to penetrate skin was strain specific. A/J and SENCAR mice had the highest penetration rates (approximately 98%), whereas the SD-Rat strain had the lowest (43%). These penetration rates we linearly correlated with tail skin HETE production at 10 min (R = 0.826), whereas HETE production at 60 min had a parabola-shaped relationship (R = 0.793). The primary infection of mice with Schistosoma mansoni cercariae may therefore be directly correlated with both the skin's innate ability to synthesize HETE, as well as with cercarial eicosanoid production, especially HETE levels. However, we believe that skin eicosanoid production is just one of many factors affecting cercarial skin penetration. Other factors discussed are: skin surface fatty acid levels, cercarial eicosanoid production, epidermal vs. dermal eicosanoid production, and the immunocompetence of the host.