Farnesol strongly inhibited growth of a halophilic archaeon, Haloferax volcanii, with an IC50 value of only 2 microM (0.4 microgram/ml) in rich medium and 50 nM (0.01 microgram/ml) in minimal medium without lysis. Other isoprenoid alcohols such as isopentenol, dimethylallyl alcohol, geraniol, and geranylgeraniol at 500 microM did not affect its growth. Mevalonate, which is the precursor of all isoprenoid membrane lipids in archaea, led to recovery of the growth inhibition of H. volcanii, but acetate had no such effect. Farnesol inhibited incorporation of acetate, but not mevalonate, into the lipid fraction. These results suggest that farnesol inhibited the biosynthetic pathway from acetate (acetyl-CoA) to mevalonate. Farnesol is known to be derived from the important intermediate of isoprenoids, farnesyl diphosphate (FPP), and found in neutral lipid fraction from this archaeon. Moreover, the cell-free extracts from H. volcanii could phosphorylate farnesol with ATP to generate farnesyl monophosphate and FPP. We conclude that farnesol-mediated isoprenoid synthesis regulation system by controlling farnesol concentration is present in H. volcanii.