Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that arrests growth of various types of cells. H(2)S can be endogenously produced by cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE) or cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) or both in colonic tissues. In this study, we observed endogenous H(2)S production in a colon cancer cell line (WiDr) and colonic tissues through the activity of both CSE and CBS. After 24 h of incubation of WiDr cells, butyrate increased cell production of H(2)S and upregulated CBS and CSE expressions. Both butyrate and NaHS (a H(2)S donor) decreased cell viability in a dose-dependent manner. Blockade of CBS, but not CSE, decreased butyrate-stimulated H(2)S production and reversed butyrate-inhibited cell viability. In addition, NaHS treatment stimulated the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), but not c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Inhibition of the phosphorylation of either p38 MAPK or ERK did not abolish NaHS-induced cell death. Butyrate treatment increased the phosphorylation of ERK, not p38 MAPK and JNK, but inhibition of ERK and p38 MAPK phosphorylation did not inhibit butyrate-reduced cell viability. In conclusion, butyrate regulates endogenous H(2)S production by stimulating CBS expression in colon cancer cells, but butyrate and H(2)S inhibit cancer cell growth through different mechanisms.