The modulating effects of the epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor-specific tyrosine kinase inhibitor ZM 252868 on cell growth and signalling have been evaluated in four ovarian carcinoma cell lines PE01, PE04, SKOV-3 and PE01CDDP. Transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-alpha)-stimulated growth was completely inhibited by concentrations > or =0.3 microM in the PE01 and PE04 cell lines and by > or =0.1 microM in SKOV-3 cells. TGF-alpha inhibition of PE01CDDP growth was reversed by concentrations > or =0.1 microM ZM 252868. TGF-alpha-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of both the EGF receptor and c-erbB2 receptor in all four cell lines. The inhibitor ZM 252868, at concentrations > or =0.3 microM, completely inhibited TGF-alpha-stimulated tyrosine phosphorylation of the EGF receptor and reduced phosphorylation of the c-erbB2 protein. EGF-activated EGF receptor tyrosine kinase activity was completely inhibited by 3 microM ZM 252868 in PE01, SKOV-3 and PE01CDDP cells. These data indicate that the EGF receptor-targeted TK inhibitor ZM 252868 can inhibit growth of ovarian carcinoma cells in vitro consistent with inhibition of tyrosine phosphorylation at the EGF receptor.