PNAS-4, a novel pro-apoptotic gene, was activated during the early response to DNA damage. Previous studies have shown that hPNAS-4 can inhibit tumor growth when over-expressed in ovarian cancer cells. However, the underlying action mechanism remains elusive. In this work, we found that hPNAS-4 expression was significantly increased in SKOV3 cells when exposed to cisplatin, methyl methanesulfonate or mitomycin C, and that its overexpression could induce proliferation inhibition, S phase arrest and apoptosis in A2780s and SKOV3 ovarian cancer cells. The S phase arrest caused by hPNAS-4 was associated with up-regulation of p21. p21 is p53-dispensable and correlates with activation of ERK, and activation of the Cdc25A-Cdk2-Cyclin E/Cyclin A pathway, while the pro-apoptotic effects of hPNAS-4 were mediated by activation of caspase-9 and -3 other than caspase-8, and accompanied by release of AIF, Smac and cytochrome c into the cytosol. Taken together, these data suggest a new mechanism by which hPNAS-4 inhibits proliferation of ovarian cancer cells by inducing S phase arrest and apoptosis via activation of Cdc25A-Cdk2-Cyclin E/Cyclin A axis and mitochondrial dysfunction-mediated caspase-dependent and -independent apoptotic pathways. To our knowledge, we provide the first molecular evidence for the potential application of hPNAS-4 as a novel target in ovarian cancer gene therapy.