Intestinal trefoil factor (ITF), which is normally absent in gastric mucosa, is over-expressed in gastric cancer. However, the functional significance of ITF in gastric cancer is unknown. We examined the effects of blocking ITF expression on the growth of gastric cancer cells and their responses to chemotherapeutic agents. Anti-sense ITF cDNA was cloned into mammalian expression vector pcDNA3 and was transfected into an ITF-expressing gastric cancer cell line SNU-1. We assessed the doubling time and anchorage dependent growth of the transfected cells using growth curve and soft agar assay respectively. Cell cycle analysis and apoptosis were determined by flow cytometry and cell death ELISA. The response to chemotherapeutic agents after transfecting anti-sense ITF was also examined. Anti-sense ITF transfectant (3A-5) had a significantly longer doubling time as compared to control cells which were transfected with empty vector (32.4 hr vs 26.9 hr, p < 0.05). In the soft agar assay, 3A-5 formed fewer colonies than control (3.5 colonies vs 23.5 colonies, p < 0.05). Although there was no significant difference in the cell cycle distribution between 3A-5 and control, anti-sense ITF resulted in marked increase in adriamycin-induced apoptosis. Our results demonstrated that blocking the expression of ITF inhibits growth of gastric cancer cells and enhances the response to chemotherapy.