Transverse fractures were made surgically in the midshaft of the left 9th and 10th ribs in adult Beagles. A buffer vehicle (n = 4) or 0.2 mg of prostaglandin (PG) E1/day (n = 6) was injected into the fracture sites twice a day for 10 days, and dogs were euthanatized on day 30. Double-pulsed fluorescent labels were given with each of 2 fluorochrome markers--calcein before surgical treatment and oxytetracycline HCl before euthanasia. Histomorphometric analysis was carried out on specimens collected in adjacent regions of the healing defects. The surface extent and width of the osteoid on fractured (P less than 0.01, P less than 0.05, respectively) and nonfractured (P less than 0.05) sites in the treated group were greater than those in the nontreated group. The net loss of mineralizing surfaces was noticed on both ribs of both groups. Of 11 samples on the fractured side in the treated group, 4 contained periosteal new bone proliferation. There was increased osteoid formation and decreased mineralizing surfaces in the PGE1-treated group. Seemingly, administration of PGE1 induced bone matrix formation on periosteal envelope adjacent to a fracture site and its contralateral matching site.