Adaphostin is a tyrphostin that was designed to inhibit Bcr/Abl tyrosine kinase by altering the binding site of peptide substrates rather than that of adenosine triphosphate, a known mechanism of imatinib mesylate (IM). However, it has been shown that adaphostin-mediated cytotoxicity is dependent on oxidant production and does not require Bcr/Abl. We have tested adaphostin against both Philadelphia chromosome (Ph)-positive (K562, KBM5, KBM5-R [IM resistant KBM5], KBM7, and KBM7-R [IM-resistant KBM7]) and Ph-negative (OCI/AML2 and OCI/AML3) cells, and against cells from patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Adaphostin significantly inhibited growth of all cell lines (50% inhibition of cell proliferation [IC50] 0.5-1 microM) except K562 (IC50 13 microM). Ph-positive IM-resistant cell lines showed significant cross resistance to adaphostin. Simultaneous or sequential treatment with adaphostin and IM did not exert a synergistic effect in any KBM line. Adaphostin induced superoxide and apoptosis in a dose-dependent and time-dependent fashion in both Ph-positive and Ph-negative cells. Adaphostin selectively inhibited colony growth of cells from CML (IM-sensitive and IM-resistant) and AML patients. Analysis of tyrosine phosphorylated proteins after treatment with adaphostin revealed alternate effects in different cells consistent with the modulation of multiple targets. In conclusion, adaphostin showed significant and selective activity against CML and AML cells and its development for clinical testing is warranted.