Recently, we reported the anti-angiogenic action along with anti-tumour activity of TNP-470 (AGM-1470). In this study, the effect of TNP-470 on the growth of human umbilical vein endothelial (HUVE) cells was examined. TNP-470 inhibited the growth of HUVE cells in a biphasic manner. The inhibition was cytostatic in the first phase (complete inhibition at 300 pg ml-1 to 3 micrograms ml-1 with an IC50 of 15 pg ml-1) and cytotoxic in the second phase (> or = 30 micrograms ml-1). The cytostatic inhibition of HUVE cell growth by TNP-470 was durable after washing out TNP-470 in culture. Incorporation of thymidine but not uridine and leucine by HUVE cells was inhibited in the first phase, while that of all three compounds was inhibited in the second phase. Human and rat endothelial cells among various types of cells were the most sensitive to the cytostatic inhibition, while differences in the cytotoxic inhibition were minimal. These results suggest that TNP-470 exerts its specific anti-angiogenic action by inhibiting cytostatically growth of endothelial cells in a relatively specific manner.