Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous disease consisting of a variety of different leukemic subtypes. While acute promyelocytic leukemia displays marked sensitivity to the differentiating effects of trans-retinoic acid (tRA), other subtypes of AML display resistance. We now describe a novel compound (E)-4-[3-(1-adamantyl)-4-hydroxyphenyl]-3-chlorocinnamic acid (3-Cl-AHPC/MM002) that induces apoptosis in the tRA-resistant leukemia cell lines M07e, KG-1, and HL-60R, and in tRA-resistant patient leukemic blasts. The 3-Cl-AHPC totally inhibits leukemia colony formation at concentrations that inhibit committed human bone marrow stem cell proliferation, that is, granulocyte/macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GMs) by only 30%. Exposure to 3-Cl-AHPC results in caspase activation and the cleavage of poly(adenosine diphosphate) (poly(ADP)) ribose polymerase. While activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 pathways is not necessary for 3-Cl-AHPC-mediated apoptosis, maximal apoptosis requires c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) activation. The 3-Cl-AHPC-mediated cleavage of the antiapoptotic B-cell leukemia XL (Bcl-XL) protein to a proapoptotic 18-kDa product is found in both the M07e cell line and patient leukemic blasts. The 3-Cl-AHPC treatment of mice bearing the AML 1498 cell line results in a 3.3-log kill in the leukemic blasts. While 3-Cl-AHPC does not activate retinoic nuclear receptors, it is a potent inducer of apoptosis in AML cells and may represent a novel therapy in the treatment of this disease.