In the present study, we examine whether human pancreatic carcinoma cells express peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) and the effect of PPARgamma activation by its selective ligand on cellular growth in pancreatic cancer cells. Immunohistochemical study of resected human pancreata using a polyclonal PPARgamma antibody revealed that PPARgamma protein expression in the nuclei of carcinoma cells was observed in 9 of 10 pancreatic adenocarcinomas. In contrast, normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells in the samples expressed no PPARgamma. Reverse transcription-PCR and Northern blot analysis demonstrated that all four tested human pancreatic cancer cell lines, PK-1, PK-8, PK-9, and MIA Paca-2, expressed PPARgamma mRNA. Luciferase assay in PK-1 cells showed that troglitazone, a selective ligand for PPARgamma, transactivated the transcription of a peroxisome proliferator response element-driven promoter in a dose-dependent fashion. Troglitazone inhibited the growth of all four pancreatic carcinoma cell lines in a dose-dependent manner. Cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry demonstrated that troglitazone induced G1 arrest in PK-1 cells. To examine the role of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors in the G1 arrest by troglitazone, we determined p27KiP1, p21CiP1/Waf1, or p18Ink4c protein expression by Western blot analysis in troglitazone-treated PK-1 cells. Troglitazone increased p27Kip1 but not p21Cip1/Waf1 or p18Inkc protein levels in time- and dose-dependent manners. To clarify the functional importance of p27Kip1 in the cell growth inhibition by troglitazone. All these results suggest that PPARgamma could be considered as a possible target molecule for treatment in human pancreatic carcinomas.