Farnesyl transferase inhibitors (FTIs) are novel antitumor drugs with clinical activity. FTIs inhibit cell growth not only by preventing direct Ras farnesylation but also through a Ras-independent pathway. Proteomics has been shown to be a powerful tool to monitor and analyze molecular networks and fluxes within the living cells and to identify the proteins that participate in these networks upon perturbation of the cellular environment. To observe early and dynamic protein changes in the cellular response to FTI in ovarian cancer cells, total proteins were extracted from 2774 cells treated or not with 10 microM manumycin, an FTI, for 3, 6 and 16 h. The proteins in the cells that were differentially expressed following treatment with manumycin for 3, 6 and 16 h were noted by two-dimensional electrophoresis and further identified by peptide mass fingerprinting as stress proteins. Both heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and altered HSP70 were significantly up-regulated as early as 16 h in 2774 cells after exposure to manumycin. Since HSP70 plays an important role in protecting cells under stress, we treated the 2774 cells with the HSP inhibitor quercetin in combination with FTI. Quercetin dramatically enhanced the manumycin-mediated apoptosis in 2774 cells. Inducible HSP70 by manumycin in surviving ovarian cancer cells was also inhibited by quercetin as demonstrated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The inhibition of HSP70 by quercetin was correlated with enhancement of manumycin-induced mediated apoptosis in 2774 cells. The inhibition of HSP70 by 50 microM quercetin was also correlated with a decreased expression of procaspase-3 and enhancement of specific cleavage of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase into apoptotic fragment in 2774 cells treated with manumycin. The interaction between the HSP70 inhibitor and FTI confirms the functional significance of the up-regulation of HSP70 as a protective mechanism against FTI-induced apoptosis and provides the framework for combination treatment of ovarian cancer.