The cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor seliciclib (R-roscovitine, CYC202) shows promising antitumor activity in preclinical models and is currently undergoing phase II clinical trials. Inhibition of the CDKs by seliciclib could contribute to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis seen with the drug. However, it is common for drugs to exert multiple effects on gene expression and biochemical pathways. To further our understanding of the molecular pharmacology of seliciclib, we employed cDNA microarrays to determine changes in gene expression profiles induced by the drug in HT29 human colon cancer cells. Concentrations of seliciclib were used that inhibited RB phosphorylation and cell proliferation. An increase in the mRNA expression for CJUN and EGR1 was confirmed by Western blotting, consistent with activation of the ERK1/2 MAPK pathway by seliciclib. Transcripts of key genes required for the progression through mitosis showed markedly reduced expression, including Aurora-A/B (AURK-A/B), Polo-like kinase (PLK), cyclin B2 (CCNB2), WEE1 and CDC25C. Reduced expression of these mitotic genes was also seen at the protein level. siRNA-mediated depletion of Aurora-A protein led to an arrest of cells in the G(2)/M phase, consistent with the effects of seliciclib treatment. Inhibition of mitotic entry following seliciclib treatment was indicated by a reduction of histone H3 phosphorylation, which is catalyzed by Aurora-B, and by decreased expression of mitotic markers, including phospho-protein phosphatase 1 alpha. The results indicate a potential mechanism through which seliciclib prevents entry into mitosis. Gene expression profiling has generated hypotheses that led to an increase in our knowledge of the cellular effects of seliciclib and could provide potential pharmacodynamic or response biomarkers for use in animal models and clinical trials.