1. Although there is increasing evidence showing that boswellic acid might be a potential anticancer agent, the mechanisms involved in its action are unclear. 2. In the present study, we showed that acetyl-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA) inhibited cellular growth in several colon cancer cell lines. Cell cycle analysis by flow cytometry showed that cells were arrested at the G1 phase after AKBA treatment. 3. Further analysis showed that cyclin D1 and E, CDK 2 and 4 and phosphorylated Rb were decreased in AKBA-treated cells while p21 expression was increased. 4. The growth inhibitory effect of AKBA was dependent on p21 but not p53. HCT-116 p53(-/-) cells were sensitized to the apoptotic effect of AKBA, suggesting that p21 may have protected cells against apoptosis by inducing a G1 arrest.5. In conclusion, we have demonstrated that AKBA inhibited cellular growth in colon cancer cells. These findings may have implications to the use of boswellic acids as potential anticancer agents in colon cancer.