Previous studies have shown that maturational changes can be induced in a human monocyte line, U937, by treatment with cellfree medium from lectin-stimulated cloned human T lymphocytes or the vitamin D metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-[OH]2D3). Many of the maturational effects are accompanied by modification, new synthesis, or reorganization of cell surface membrane constituents, including proteins that function as receptors for ligands that modulate monocyte function. In the present studies, we examined the effects of monocyte differentiation on responsiveness to prostaglandin E2 (PGE)2. We found that the maturational effects of the lymphokine or 1,25[OH]2D3 were accompanied by a marked reduction in the PGE2-induced increase in cellular content of adenosine 3':5'-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP) and a shift in the dose-response curve consistent with a decrease in PGE2 receptor number or binding affinity. Incubation of cells with IFN-alpha or IFN-gamma produced by recombinant DNA technology did not influence PGE2 responsiveness, suggesting that the effects of the lymphokine were not mediated by these products. The absence of an effect on sodium fluoride- or forskolin-induced adenylate cyclase response in membranes prepared from treated cells suggests that the treatment conditions affect PGE2 receptor function rather than the adenylate cyclase enzyme complex. Changes in cell surface receptors for hormones such as PGE2 provide a potential mechanism for modulating the biologic activity of monocyte-macrophages during the process of cellular differentiation.