This study was designed to determine the influence of acetazolamide, a potent inhibitor of carbonic anhydrase, on the formation of gastric mucosal lesions induced by acidified aspirin (ASA) or absolute ethanol and on gastric cytoprotection induced by prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Acetazolamide prevented dose-dependently ethanol-induced gastric lesions and this effect was accompanied by an increased biosynthesis of mucosal PGs, indicating that endogenous PGs may be involved in cytoprotection by acetazolamide. This is supported by the finding that acetazolamide failed to affect gastric ulcerations produced by acidified ASA when mucosal PG biosynthesis was almost completely suppressed. Pretreatment with acetazolamide did not influence the protective action of PGE2 on ethanol-induced mucosal lesions and only slightly inhibited the protective effect of PGE2 on ASA-induced gastric ulcerations. This study indicates that: (1) acetazolamide prevents ethanol- but not ASA-induced gastric mucosal lesions probably via stimulation of PG biosynthesis and (2) gastric alkaline secretion, mediated by carbonic anhydrase, is probably not an essential mechanism responsible for this cytoprotection induced by PGE2.