Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound present in fruits and nuts including raspberries, strawberries and walnuts. It is known to inhibit certain carcinogen-induced cancers and may have other chemopreventive properties. The effects of ellagic acid on cell cycle events and apoptosis were studied in cervical carcinoma (CaSki) cells. We found that ellagic acid at a concentration of 10(-5) M induced G arrest within 48 h, inhibited overall cell growth and induced apoptosis in CaSki cells after 72 h of treatment. Activation of the cdk inhibitory protein p21 by ellagic acid suggests a role for ellagic acid in cell cycle regulation of cancer cells.