Several inhibitors of angiogenesis have been identified in bovine and shark cartilage. One of them is troponin I, which is the molecule responsible for the inhibition of the actomyosin ATPase during muscle contraction. In this study we sought to investigate if the active site of troponin I (peptide Glu94-Leu123; pTnI) is also the one responsible for the antiangiogenic properties of this protein. The effects of pTnI on endothelial cell tube formation and endothelial cell division were investigated using human umbilical vein endothelial cells, Matrigel, light microscopy, carboxyfluorescein diacetate, succinimidyl esterlabeling, and flow cytometry. Its effects on induction of ICAM-1 and production of vascular endothelial growth factor by pancreatic cancer cells (CAPAN-1) were also investigated, as was its efficacy in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer metastases. Our results show that concentrations as low as 1 pg/ml of pTnI significantly inhibit endothelial cell tube formation, and that endothelial cell division was inhibited at 96 hours by 3 microg/ml pTnI (P=0.0001). No effects were seen using troponin peptide 124-181 as a control. pTnI-treated supernatant from the pancreatic cancer cell line CAPAN-1 downregulated ICAM-1 expression on human umbilical vein endothelial cells up to 10 ng/ml pTnI, and a significant reduction in vascular endothelial growth factor production was seen by treating CAPAN-1 cells with up to 1 microg/ml pTnI. After intrasplenic injection of CAPAN-1 cells, mice treated with pTnI had fewer liver metastases compared to control mice (liver/body weight 5.5 vs. 11.1; P=0.03). The active region of troponin I is the one responsible for its antiangiogenic effect. The mechanism of action of this peptide is probably multifactorial.