A double-blinded, randomised, placebo-controlled field study of the influence of prostaglandin E2 (pge2) on cattle at parturition was carried out. The extent of cervical opening and the intensity of labour were scored before administration of the compound and 10 minutes later; routine birth assistance was then continued by the veterinarian. Successful birth occurred more quickly in the cows treated with pge2. The extent of cervical opening before the administration of the drug had a significant effect on the time to delivery, but the intensity of labour and a concomitant infusion of calcium did not have significant effects on this period. The less open the cervix before administration of the drug, the more the duration of parturition differed between the two groups, with the placebo group taking longer. A telephone follow-up inquiry found no significant differences between the cows postpartum; there were cases of mastitis and hypocalcaemia in both groups. The incidence of retained fetal membranes and the mortality of the calves were higher in the placebo group, but in neither case was the difference significant.