Cruciferous vegetables contain glucobrassicin which, during metabolism, yields indole-3-carbinol (I3C). In a low pH environment I3C is converted into polymeric products, among which 3,3'-diindolylmethane (DIM) is the main one. The apoptotic effects of I3C and DIM were exhibited in human breast cancer cells. The objectives of this study were: (a) examination of the potential effects of I3C and DIM on the proliferation and induction of apoptosis in human prostate cancer cell lines with different p53 status; (b) to try to characterise the mechanism(s) involved in these effects. Our results indicate that both indole derivatives suppress the growth of these cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner, by inducing apoptosis. It appears that these indolic compounds may offer effective means against prostate cancer. Induction of apoptosis was p53-independent. Moreover, the indole derivatives employed did not affect the levels of bcl-2, bax and fasL.