Neonatal mice deficient in IkappaB-alpha, an inhibitor of the ubiquitous transcription factor NF-kappaB, develop severe and widespread dermatitis shortly after birth. In humans, inflammatory skin disorders such as psoriasis are associated with accumulation in the skin of the unusual arachidonic acid metabolite 12R-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12R-HETE), a product of the enzyme 12R-lipoxygenase. To examine the etiology of the murine IkappaB-alpha-deficient skin phenotype, we investigated the expression of lipoxygenases and the metabolism of exogenous arachidonic acid in the skin. In the IkappaB-alpha-deficient animals, the major lipoxygenase metabolite was 8S-HETE, formed together with a minor amount of 12S-HETE; 12R-HETE synthesis was undetectable. Skin from the wild-type littermates formed 12S-HETE as the almost exclusive lipoxygenase metabolite. Upregulation of 8S-lipoxygenase (8-LOX) in IkappaB-alpha-deficient mice was confirmed at the transcriptional and translational level using ribonuclease protection assay and western analysis. In immunohistochemical studies, increased expression of 8-LOX was detected in the stratum granulosum of the epidermis. In the stratum granulosum, 8-LOX may be involved in the terminal differentiation of keratinocytes. Although mouse 8S-lipoxygenase and human 12R-lipoxygenase are not ortholog genes, we speculate that in mouse and humans the two different enzymes may fulfill equivalent functions in the progression of inflammatory dermatoses.