Inositol hexaphosphate (IP6) has a demonstrably effective anti-cancer action against a variety of experimental tumors. However, the mechanisms of its actions are yet to be completely discerned. Studies in my laboratory have shown that IP6 is rather rapidly absorbed by rats in vivo. Ion exchange chromatography demonstrates the presence of inositol and IP1-6 in gastric epithelial cells as early as within 1 h of intragastric 3H-IP6 administration. The metabolized IP6, in the form of inositol and IP1 is transported via plasma and reaches distant organs as well as tumors. In rats, the urinary metabolites of IP6 are inositol and IP1. However, in humans 1-3% of total administered IP6 is excreted in the urine as IP6; the level shows a normal oscillation between 0.5-6 mg/L [F. Grases et al]. Investigations of the uptake and metabolism by a variety of cancer cell lines in vitro also demonstrate an instantaneous absorption of IP6. The rate and pattern at which IP6 is metabolized by cancer cells varies depending on the cell type. Intracellular inositols accumulated mostly (80-97%) in the cytosol as inositol and IP1-6. IP6 treatment of all the cell lines tested so far demonstrates that it is cytostatic and not cytotoxic. Along with inhibition of cell proliferation, there is enhanced differentiation of malignant cells to a more mature phenotype, often resulting in reversion to normal. Studies of the expression of tumor suppressor gene demonstrate up-regulation of wild type p53 and down-regulation of the mutant form. Since p53-mediated cell cycle arrest may be the direct result of induction of WAF-1 gene (p21WAF-1/CIP1), our studies demonstrate that IP6 up-regulates the expression of p21WAF-1/CIP1 in a dose-dependent manner. These data strongly point towards the involvement of signal transduction pathways, cell cycle regulatory genes, differentiation genes, oncogenes and perhaps, tumor suppressor genes in bringing about the observed anti-neoplastic action of IP6.