The resorcylic acid lactone L-783,277, isolated from a Phoma sp. (ATCC 74403), is a potent and specific inhibitor of MEK (Map kinase kinase) that exerts very interesting pharmacological activities including anti-neoplastic properties. However, the role of this compound in the regulation of endocrine-related cancer cell growth and tumor progression remains unknown. In the present study we have evaluated the effect of L-783,277 on the viability, proliferation and cell cycle of the human adrenocortical carcinoma cell line H295R. L-783,277 inhibited viability (IC50 of 22 microM) and cell proliferation (IC50 of 21 microM) of H295R. At concentrations of 10(-6)-10(-8)M this effect was associated with the accumulation of H295R cells in S-phase, whereas at concentrations of 10(-9)-10(-10)M a prolonged G1-phase and reduced transition into S-phase were observed. Our findings demonstrate for the first time the anti-proliferative action of L-783,277 on the human adrenocortical H295R cell line.