Conventional antiandrogen therapy for prostatic cancer generally results in the death of androgen-dependent cells, resulting in shrinkage of the tumor, followed by regrowth of the tumor as androgen-insensitive cells take over. Because of reported antigonadotropic and antineoplastic effects of the pineal hormone melatonin (MEL), we hypothesized that this indole might provide an effective therapy for prostate cancer, as it would be effective against both populations of tumor cells. We used three sublines of the Dunning R3327 rat prostatic adenocarcinoma to determine whether MEL could suppress the growth of these tumors and, if so, by what mechanisms this occurs. In one experiments, we compared the growth of a well-differentiated slow-growing Dunning tumor in rats given MEL combined with the potentiating procedure olfactory bulbectomy (BULBX), with that in rats pinealectomized (PINX) or untreated. Tumor growth in BULBX-MEL rats was significantly suppressed over that in the other two groups, as were the weights of the gonads and accessory sex glands. Tumor morphology, DNA concentration, and androgen receptor concentration and distribution were identical in untreated controls and in BULBX-MEL rats, suggesting that the treatment affected all populations of tumor cells equally. With another strain of well-differentiated slow-growing Dunning tumor, we examined the effects of MEL in rats with and without BULBX. Reproductive parameters were not suppressed in BULBX-MEL rats and, while there was a trend toward slower tumor growth in this group, this was not significant. Intact rats given MEL grew larger tumors than did control rats but, again, differences were not significant. In a third experiment, we examined a fast-growing androgen-insensitive anaplastic Dunning tumor. PINX was without effect on this tumor, but BULBX-MEL resulted in a significant suppression of one of the constants in the logistic equation fitted to the growth curves. This indicates that there were some direct antitumor effects of BULBX-MEL on this tumor strain. We conclude that MEL suppresses growth of some Dunning tumor strains.