The COX (cyclo-oxygenase) pathway generates the reactive lipid electrophile 15d-PGJ2 (15-deoxy-Δ12,14-prostaglandin J 2), which forms covalent protein adducts that modulate cell signalling pathways. It has been shown that this regulates important biological responses, including protection against oxidative stress, and supports the proposal that 15d-PGJ2 has pharmacological potential. Protective pathways activated by 15d-PGJ2 include those controlling the synthesis of the intracellular antioxidants GSH and the enzyme HO-1 (haem oxygenase-1). The induction of the synthesis of these intracellular antioxidants is, in large part, regulated by covalent modification of Keap1 (Kelch-like erythroid cell-derived protein with cap'n'collar homology-associated protein 1) by the lipid and the subsequent activation of the EpRE (electrophile-response element). For the first time, we show that the potency of 15d-PGJ2 as a signalling molecule in endothelial cells is significantly enhanced by the accumulation of the covalent adduct with 15d-PGJ2 and endogenous Keap1 over the time of exposure to the prostaglandin. The consequence of this finding is that signalling initiated by electrophilic lipids differs from agonists that do not form covalent adducts with proteins because the constant generation of very low concentrations of 15d-PGJ2 can lead to induction of GSH or HO-1. In the course of these studies we also found that a substantial amount (97-99 %) of exogenously added 15d-PGJ2 is inactivated in the medium and does not enter the cells to initiate cell signalling. In summary, we propose that the accumulation of covalent adduct formation with signalling proteins provides a mechanism through which endogenous intracellular formation of electrophilic lipids from COX can exert an anti-inflammatory effect in vivo. © The Authors.