Serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A), a crucial enzyme in apoptosis control, has been demonstrated within the plasma membrane as well as in the soluble fraction. This study aimed to examine hormonal translocation of PP2A to the plasma membrane in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)-responsive ovarian cancer cells. Apoptosis of ovarian cancer cell lines Caov-3 and SK-Ov-3 was quantified by nuclear morphology after staining with Hoechst 33342 dye. PP2A protein and activity in plasma membrane were assessed by immunohistochemical staining with PP2A-specific antibodies and by the measurement of the dephosphorylation of phosphopeptide highly selective for the PP2A, respectively. Incubation for 48 h with a GnRH antagonist cetrorelix caused parallel increases in the percentage of cells undergoing apoptosis and the membrane-associated PP2A activity; half-maximal effects occurred with 5 nmol/l cetrorelix. PP2A protein was also localised to the plasma membrane when the cell lines were exposed to cetrorelix. Pretreatment of the cells with pertussis toxin, but not cholera toxin, completely inhibited cetrorelix-stimulated apoptotic cell death and PP2A redistribution. These findings demonstrate that translocation of PP2A to plasma membrane is closely coupled to the onset of apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells exposed to GnRH antagonist. These GnRH-induced cellular events may be mediated through pertussis toxin-sensitive Gi protein-linked GnRH receptor.