We have previously shown that Bcl-2 expression was negative prognostic factor in transitional cell cancer (TCC), and that TCC cell lines expressing high levels of Bcl-2 are resistant to Adriamycin triggered apoptosis. Here we examined antisense oligonucleotide-mediated downregulation of Bcl-2 expression and its effect on sensitivity to Adriamycin (ADM) treatment in T24 cells. Treatment of T24 cells with 20 microM of bcl-2 antisense phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotide (PODN) reduced the Bcl-2 protein level. Combined administration with Adriamycin resulted in synergistic cytotoxicity, accompanied with a 2.4-fold increase in DEVD-specific caspase activity. The finding provides evidence that Bcl-2 expression may be critical for maintaining the drug resistance of TCC. bcl-2 antisense PODN might be useful means for overcoming drug resistance in highly malignant TCC.