Activation of the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (IGF-1R) by IGF-1 and IGF-2 plays a prominent role in the growth and survival of small cell lung cancer (SCLC) by potently activating the PI3K-Akt signal transduction pathway, which is also an important factor in the resistance of SCLC to chemotherapy. A12 is a fully human monoclonal antibody directed against the human IGF-1R that does not cross-react with the insulin receptor. In this study we have utilized A12 to determine the effects of selective antibody-mediated blockade of the IGF-1R on SCLC cell lines. Incubation with A12 resulted in a dose-dependent inhibition of IGF-1-stimulated IGF-1R and Akt activity, with maximal inhibition of approximately 75% at a concentration of 10mug/ml in the H526 cell line. Growth of the H526 and H146 cell lines in serum was inhibited by a maximum of 50-70% in a dose-dependent fashion, which correlated well with the extent of Akt inhibition. However, growth of the H69 and WBA cell lines was unaffected by A12. Despite almost complete inhibition of IGF-1R phosphorylation by A12, Akt activity remained constitutively high in these cell lines. H526 transfectants expressing a constitutively active Akt allele also were resistant to A12. Treatment with A12 additively enhanced response to carboplatin in the H526 and H146 cell lines but had no effect on the H69 and WBA cell lines. Treatment of the H526 cell line with a combination of A12 and rapamycin was highly synergistic. These data suggest that growth inhibition and chemosensitization of SCLC by A12 is directly correlated with the ability to inhibit PI3K-Akt signaling, with those cell lines showing constitutive PI3K-Akt signaling displaying a high level of resistance to IGF-1R targeted therapy.