There is growing evidence that thiol conjugates of isothiocyanates present in cruciferous vegetables are effective cancer chemopreventive and potentially active therapeutic agents. The effects of the N-acetylcysteine conjugate of phenethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC-NAC) on tumor cell growth were analyzed in human prostate cancer cell lines LNCaP, androgen-dependent, and DU-145, androgen-independent. Exposure of the cells to PEITC-NAC at high concentrations caused cytolysis, while at lower concentrations PEITC-NAC mediated a dose-dependent growth modulation, with reduction of DNA synthesis and growth rate, inhibition of clonogenicity and induction of apoptosis in both types of prostate cancer cells. PEITC-NAC decreased cells in S and G2M phases of cell cycle, blocking cells entering replicating phases. In parallel, a significant enhancement of cells expressing the cell cycle regulator p21 as well as its intensity was determined using a fluorescent antibody technique. The action of PEITC-NAC was time-dependent, with the magnitude of inhibition increasing to 50-65% after PEITC-NAC exposure for several days. Interaction of tumor cells with dissociation products of PEITC-NAC, PEITC and NAC, are proposed as the mechanism of growth regulation.