Peptide nucleic acids (PNA) are synthetic homologs of nucleic acids in which the phosphate-sugar polynucleotide backbone is replaced by a flexible polyamide. In this study, a PNA construct was employed as an anti-gene agent in intact cells in culture. The cell lines studied were derived from Burkitt's lymphomas (BL) that presented a translocated and hyperexpressed c-myc oncogene. A 17-mer anti-myc PNA, complementary to a unique sequence located at the beginning of the second exon of the oncogene, and was covalently linked at its N terminus to a nuclear localization signal (NLS) (PNA-myc(wt)-NLS). When BL cells were exposed to PNA-myc(wt)-NLS, the anti-gene construct was localized predominantly in the cell nuclei and a rapid consequent downregulation of c-myc expression occurred. Under these conditions, both completion of a productive cell cycle and apoptosis were inhibited.