The objective of the present study was to evaluate the in vitro and in vivo anti-cancer effect of Nigella sativa L. seed extracts. The essential oil (IC50 = 0.6%, v/v) and ethyl acetate (IC50 = 0.75%) extracts were more cytotoxic against the P815 cell line than the butanol extract (IC50 = 2%). Similar results were obtained with the Vero cell line. Although all extracts had a comparable cytotoxic effect against the ICO1 cell line, with IC50 values ranging from 0.2 to 0.26% (v/v), tests on the BSR cell line revealed a high cytotoxic effect of the ethyl acetate extract (IC50 = 0.2%) compared to the essential oil (IC50 = 1.2%). These data show that the cytotoxicity of each extract depends on the tumor cell type. In vivo, using the DBA2/P815 (H2d) mouse model, our results clearly showed that the injection of the essential oil into the tumor site significantly inhibited solid tumor development. Indeed, on the 30th day of treatment, the tumor volume of the control animals was 2.5 +/- 0.6 cm(3), whereas the tumor volumes of the essential oil-treated animals were 0.22 +/- 0.1 and 0.16 +/- 0.1 cm(3) when the animals were injected with 30 microL (28.5 mg)/mouse and 50 microL (47.5 mg)/mouse per 48 h (six times), respectively. Interestingly, the administration of the essential oil into the tumor site inhibited the incidence of liver metastasis development and improved mouse survival.