The aim of the present work was to study whether melatonin, at physiological concentrations, exerts its antiproliferative effects on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by inducing the expression of some of the proteins involved in the control of the cell cycle. MCF-7 cells were cultured for 48 h in DMEM media containing either melatonin (1 nM) or the diluent (0.001% ethanol). At this concentration, after 48 hours of incubation, melatonin reduced the number of viable cells in relation to controls. The decreased cell proliferation was coincident with a significant increase in the expression of p53 as well as p21WAF1 proteins. These results demonstrate that melatonin inhibits MCF-7 cell proliferation by inducing an arrest of cell cycle dependent on an increased expression of p21WAF1 protein, which is mediated by the p53 pathway.