Epoprostenol has improved the outcome of patients with primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH); however, its mechanism of action remains poorly understood. Isoprostanes are easily measured markers of oxidant stress and can activate platelets leading to increased thromboxane A2 (TxA2) production. We hypothesized that oxidant stress is associated with increased TxA2 synthesis and that epoprostenol decreases oxidant stress and TxA2 production in patients with PPH. Morning urine samples were obtained from 19 patients with PPH. We measured urinary metabolites of the isoprostane, 8-iso-PGF2alpha (F2-IsoP-M), and of TxA2 (Tx-M) before and after treatment with epoprostenol in patients with PPH. Mean (+/-SE) levels of F2-IsoP-M were elevated at baseline in our patients, 863 +/- 97 pg/mg creatinine. During treatment with epoprostenol, values decreased to 636 +/- 77 pg/mg creatinine (P = 0.011), and there was a strong correlation between the change in F2-IsoP-M and follow-up pulmonary vascular resistance (R2 = 0.69, P < 0.001). Tx-M levels were markedly elevated at baseline and were unchanged with therapy. These results indicate that oxidant stress decreases with epoprostenol therapy and is associated with hemodynamic and clinical improvement. The failure of Tx-M to decrease with therapy suggests that epoprostenol does not exert a beneficial effect through inhibition of TxA2 production in patients with PPH.