Antineoplaston A10 (3-phenylacetylamino-2,6-piperidinedion) is a naturally occurring substance and was the first antineoplaston in the human body to be chemically identified. The effect of antineoplaston A10 on human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines HepG2 and HLE has been examined. Antineoplaston A10 displayed anti-proliferative action inhibiting cell growth in a dose- and time-dependent manner in vitro as measured by 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and clonogenic assays. Incubation with antineoplaston A10 for 48 h induced apoptotic events such as a typical apoptotic morphology, formation of a characteristic ladder pattern of DNA migration and accumulation of sub-G1 phase cells. Next, hepatoma xenografts in nude mice were employed to study the antitumor effects of antineoplaston A10 in vivo. Oral administration of antineoplaston A10 delayed the growth of HepG2 and HLE cells in the mice without a reduction in body weight. A higher proportion of apoptotic cells in xenografts was observed by means of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-biotin nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining. In addition, the level of expression of apoptotic marker p53 increased while that of anti-apoptotic protein bcl-2 decreased, as evaluated with immunohistochemical staining in the xenografts. These results suggested that antineoplaston A10 may inhibit the growth of human hepatoma cells through the induction of apoptosis.