The aim of this study was to investigate whether peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-gamma activation has an effect on the attachment of endometrial cells to peritoneal mesothelial cells in a well-established in vitro model of the early endometriotic lesion. The endometrial epithelial cell line EM42 and mesothelial cell line LP9 were used for this study. EM42 cells, LP9 cells or both were treated with the PPAR-gamma agonist ciglitazone (CTZ) at varying concentrations (10, 20 and 40 microM) x 48 h with subsequent co-culture of EM42 and LP9 cells. The rate of EM42 attachment and invasion through LP9 cells was then assessed and compared with control (EM42 and LP9 cells co-cultured without prior treatment with CTZ). Next, attachment of CTZ-treated and untreated EM42 cells to hyaluronic acid (HA), a cell adhesion molecule (CAM) on peritoneal mesothelial cells, were assessed. Although there was no difference in EM42 attachment when LP9 cells alone were treated with CTZ, treatment of EM42 cells with 40 microM CTZ decreased EM42 attachment to LP9 cells by 27% (P < 0.01). Treatment of both EM42 and LP9 cells with 40 microM CTZ decreased EM42 attachment to LP9 by 37% (P < 0.01). Treatment of EM42 cells with 40 microM CTZ decreased attachment to HA by 66% (P = 0.056). CTZ did not decrease invasion of EM42 cells through the LP9 monolayer. CTZ may inhibit EM42 cell proliferation. In conclusion, CTZ significantly decreased EM42 attachment to LP9 cells and HA in an in vitro model of the early endometriotic lesion.