Profibrogeneic cytokines contribute to the accumulation of myofibroblasts in the lung interstitium in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Imatinib mesylate, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor specific for Abl, platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) and c-Kit tyrosine kinases, has been shown to inhibit fibrosis and profibrotic signaling in mouse models of inflammation-mediated lung reactions. The authors tested imatinib mesylate in vivo in a mouse model of crocidolite asbestos-induced progressive fibrosis. The ability of imatinib mesylate to inhibit profibrogeneic cytokine-induced human pulmonary fibroblast migration was tested in vitro and the expression of its target protein tyrosine kinases was assessed with immunofluorescence. In vivo, 10 mg/kg/day imatinib mesylate inhibited histological parenchymal fibrosis and led to a decrease in collagen deposition, but had no significant effect on asbestos-induced neutrophilia. However, 50 mg/kg/day imatinib mesylate did not inhibit collagen deposition. In vitro, IPF fibroblasts expressed Abl, PDGFR-alpha, PDGF-beta, but not c-Kit, and 1 microM imatinib mesylate inhibited profibrogeneic cytokine-induced IPF fibroblast migration. These results suggest that imatinib mesylate is a potential and specific inhibitor of fibroblast accumulation in asbestos-induced pulmonary fibrosis.