The effect of the dinitroaniline herbicides oryzalin and trifluralin on the growth of Entamoeba histolytica was examined. Oryzalin inhibited the growth of E. histolytica strain HM-1:IMSS. Trifluralin was less effective than oryzalin for this parasite. Entamoeba histolytica was more resistant to these dinitroanilines than other parasitic protozoa examined so far, including Leishmania spp., Trypanosoma brucei, Plasmodium falciparum, Toxoplasma gondii, and Cryptosporidium parvum. Colchicine, a potent microtubule inhibitor of animal cells, was much less effective for E. histolytica, even at very high concentrations. A reptilian parasite, Entamoeba invadens strain IP-1, examined for comparison, was more resistant to these dinitroanilines than E. histolytica. Accumulation of E. histolytica trophozoites in mitosis was observed after culture in 100 microM oryzalin. The inhibitory effect of oryzalin on the growth of E. histolytica trophozoites was abrogated by removal of the drug after exposure to 100 microM for 2 days. In parallel to the recovery of growth after removal of the drug, the percentage of trophozoites in mitosis was reduced to a normal level. The results indicate that treatment of trophozoites with oryzalin arrests mitosis and that its effect is reversible. Therefore, oryzalin is a useful tool for studies relating to the cell cycle of this parasite.