Resveratrol, a natural phytoestrogen, has been reported to promote differentiation of murine MC3T3-E1 osteoblasts and to inhibit proliferation of prostate cancer cell lines. In the present study we tested the effects of resveratrol on the increased proliferation of human AHTO-7 osteoblastic cell line induced by conditioned media (CM) from a panel of carcinoma cell lines. This compound was found to modulate AHTO-7 proliferation in a tamoxifen-sensitive mechanism at lower concentrations, but failed to induce the osteoblast differentiation marker alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in contrast to vitamin D3. The proliferative response of AHTO-7 cells to conditioned media from carcinoma cell lines was diminished (30-71.4% inhibition) upon pretreatment with 0.5 microM resveratrol. Highest inhibition was demonstrated for pancreas (BxPC3, Panc-1), breast (ZR75-1) and renal (ACHN) carcinoma cell line supernatants whereas the effect on colon carcinoma (SW620, Colo320DM) cell CM and prostate cancer (PC3, DU145 and LNCaP) CM was less pronounced. Direct addition of resveratrol affected only supernatants of cell lines (<25% inhibition) exhibiting growth stimulatory activity for normal WI-38 lung fibroblasts. Resveratrol inhibited proliferation of DU145 and LNCaP cells in concentrations exceeding 5 microM, altered cell cycle distribution of all prostate cancer cell lines in concentrations as low as 0.5 microM, but did not inhibit the production of osteoblastic factors by these lines. In conclusion, resveratrol failed to induce ALP activity as marker of osteoblast differentiation in human osteoblastic AHTO-7 cells, however, inhibited their response to osteoblastic carcinoma-derived growth factors in concentrations significantly lower than those to reduce growth of cancer cells, thus effectively modulating tumor - osteoblast interaction.