Melatonin, the hormone secreted by the pineal gland at night, has recently been found to attenuate growth and viability of benign human prostate epithelial cells. Estradiol suppressed these responses by efflecting a protein kinase C mediated inactivation of melatonin receptors. In the present study, the effects of melatonin on growth and viability of the human androgen-sensitive prostatic tumor cell line-LNCaP and the influence of estradiol on these responses were explored. Melatonin inhibited 3H-thymidine incorporation into LNCaP cells at physiological concentrations. This response decayed within 24 h. The inactivation of the response slowed down in the presence of the protein kinase C inhibitor GF-109203X. Estradiol also inhibited 3H-thymidine incorporation and its effects were additive to those of melatonin. Suppression of DNA content was observed in cells treated for 2 days with melatonin (0.1 nM); this suppression was maintained for longer periods in the presence than in the absence of estradiol. In addition, estradiol and melatonin slightly and additively decreased cell viability. These results demonstrate for the first time a direct interaction of melatonin with androgen-sensitive prostate tumor cells leading to attenuation of cell growth. They also show that unlike in benign prostate epithelial cells, estrogen attenuates LNCaP cell growth and supports rather than inactivates melatonin's action.