Cinnamaldehyde is a principle compound isolated from Guizhi-Tang, which is a famous traditional Chinese medical formula used to treat influenza, common cold and other pyretic conditions. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of cinnamaldehyde on expression and activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in rat cerebral microvascular endothelial cells (RCMEC). RCMEC were cultured, and identified by immunohistochemistry for von Willebrand factor in cytoplasm of the cells. Then cells were incubated in M199 medium containing interleukin (IL)-1β in the presence or absence of cinnamaldehyde. After incubation, the medium was collected and the amount of PGE2 was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The cells were harvested, mRNA expression and activity of COX were analyzed by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) with SYBR Green dye and ELISA respectively. Positive immunostaining for von Willebrand factor was present diffusely in the cytoplasm of >95% RCMEC. IL-1β increased the mRNA expression and activity of COX-2, and production of PGE2 in a dose- and time-dependent manner in RCMEC, while mRNA and activity of COX-1 were not significantly altered. Cinnamaldehyde significantly decreased IL-1β-induced COX-2 activity and PGE2 production in a dose-dependent manner, while it showed no inhibitory effect on IL-1β-induced COX-2 mRNA expression in cultured RCMEC. In conclusion, cinnamaldehyde reduces IL-1β-induced COX-2 activity, but not IL-1β-induced COX-2 mRNA expression, and consequently inhibits production of PGE2 in cultured RCMEC.