An increased secretion of cytokines and growth factors has been hypothesised to play a role in the abnormal growth of keloid fibroblasts. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the calcium antagonist verapamil on the interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion, as well as on cellular growth, in primary cultures of fibroblasts derived from the central part of keloid lesions. These cells grew faster than peripheral keloid and nonkeloid fibroblasts, and, in long-term cultures, became stratified assuming a three-dimensional structure. Compared with peripheral and nonkeloid fibroblasts, central keloid fibroblasts presented an increased production of both IL-6 and VEGF (P<0.03 and P<0.005, respectively). Verapamil (100 microM) decreased IL-6 and VEGF production (P<0.03 and P<0.005, respectively) in central keloid fibroblasts cultures at 72 h. Moreover, verapamil decreased cellular proliferation by 29% and increased apoptosis to an absolute value of 8%. The results of this study demonstrate that in primary cultures of central keloid fibroblasts verapamil reduces the sustained basal IL-6 and VEGF production and inhibits cell growth; these data may offer the link with the beneficial effect of calcium antagonists on keloid scars in vivo.