In summary, COX-2 is a highly regulated gene product that catalyzes the local production of PGs in pathologic and physiologic situations (Figure 1). It is clear that COX-2 is the isoform responsible for production of the PGs that mediate inflammation, pain, and fever. However, the role for COX-2 in normal physiology is still being defined. Specific COX-2 inhibitors represent a significant conceptual advance in therapy for patients with arthritis. Although there is no expectation of superior efficacy, clinical trials suggest that efficacy will be comparable with that of nonselective NSAIDs. Clinical trials demonstrate the potential for clinically meaningful reductions in the incidence of the most serious GI complications found with nonselective NSAIDs, i.e., ulcer, perforation, and GI bleeding. Over the next several years, treatment of large numbers of patients with specific COX-2 inhibitors will help to define the biology of COX-2. The magnitude of this advance in the therapy of rheumatic diseases is yet to be accurately determined, but the development of specific COX-2 inhibitors may afford significant new treatment options for many patients.