Sulfo-glycolipids in the class of sulfoquinovosyl diacylglycerol (SQDG) including the stereoisomers are potent inhibitors of DNA polymerase alpha and beta. However, since the alpha-configuration of SQDG with two stearic acids (alpha-SQDG-C(18)) can hardly penetrate cells, it has no cytotoxic effect. We tried and succeeded in making a permeable form, sulfoquinovosyl monoacylglycerol with a stearic acid (alpha-SQMG-C(18)) from alpha-SQDG-C(18) by hydrolysis with a pancreatic lipase. alpha-SQMG-C(18) inhibited DNA polymerase activity and was found to be a potent inhibitor of the growth of NUGC-3 cancer cells. alpha-SQMG-C(18) arrested the cell cycle at the G1 phase, and subsequently induced severe apoptosis. The arrest was correlated with an increased expression of p53 and cyclin E, indicating that alpha-SQMG-C(18) induced cell death through a p53-dependent apoptotic pathway.