Several investigations have suggested that products of arachidonic acid metabolism have modulatory effects on the development of cellular immunity. In this report we have studied the role of arachidonic acid metabolism in the specific effects of interleukin 1 (IL 1) induction of interleukin 2 (IL 2), and also IL 2 stimulation of proliferation and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production. Utilizing cell lines that are specifically responsive to IL 1 or IL 2, it was found that both interleukins stimulate lipoxygenation of arachidonic acid in their respective target cell. The ability of each interleukin to induce monohydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (HETE) correlated with the induction of secondary lymphokine secretion. Utilizing selective and partially selective pharmacologic inhibitors of arachidonic acid metabolism, the data suggest that the participation of lipoxygenase activity is required for both IL 1 induction of IL 2 production and IL 2 regulation of proliferation and IFN-gamma secretion. The same requirement for lipoxygenase activity was seen when phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) was used as a secretory stimulant, suggesting a similar mode of action for stimulation-secretory activity between PMA and interleukins. Studies performed with an endogenous inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase (15-HETE) demonstrated the requirement of this enzyme system for IL 2-dependent proliferation and IFN-gamma production. Although leukotrienes could replace IL 2 for IFN-gamma secretion, they had no effect on IL 2 growth promotion. The results suggest that both IL 1 and IL 2, and PMA, may share the lipoxygenase pathway of arachidonic acid metabolism which is a component of the intracellular signal transduction process that regulates secretory activity and/or cellular proliferation.