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Prostaglandins (PGs) produced by cyclooxygenase (COX) participate in many aspects of female reproduction. The two isoforms of cyclooxygenase, COX-1 and COX-2, have distinct expression patterns in the mouse uterus during the peri-implantation period and suggest their independent contribution to uterine PGs. Using wild type and COX-1(-/-) mice, we examined the role of COX-1-derived PGs on day 4 of pregnancy, when its expression is maximal. Uterine vascular permeability was measured by 125I-labeled bovine serum albumin (BSA) uptake, and PG content was measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Vascular permeability and PG concentrations were reduced in COX-1(-/-) mice, but by less than the expected amount. After ovariectomy, uterine vascular permeability declined in both groups, but returned to baseline in wild type and was exaggerated in COX-1(-/-) females after treatment with ovarian steroids. Most importantly, COX-1(-/-) uteri displayed COX-2 expression on the morning of day 4, when COX-2 is normally absent. This hybridization pattern resembles the native expression of COX-1, and may partially offset the loss of COX-1-derived PGs. These data indicate that COX-1-derived PGs are important during uterine preparation for implantation, and that COX-2 compensation occurs in the absence of COX-1.