Decreased accumulation of the fluorescent dye BCECF [2', 7'-bis-(2-carboxyethyl)-5-(6)- carboxyfluorescein] characterized murine and human multidrug-resistant cell lines overexpressing the multidrug resistance protein (MRP). Indomethacin (10 microM), a known cyclo-oxygenase and glutathione-S-transferase inhibitor as well as a modulator of anion transport, increased accumulation and blocked efflux of BCECF in MRP-expressing murine and human cells. The drug did not affect P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-mediated export of rhodamine 123. The indomethacin effect on BCECF efflux was not reversed by the addition of exogenous prostaglandins, suggesting that the drug acts by a mechanism other than decreasing prostaglandin synthesis. Indomethacin also increased multidrug susceptibility of both murine and human cell lines overexpressing MRP, but not those displaying P-gp-associated resistance. In addition, indomethacin modulated the decreased vincristine accumulation in cells expressing MRP, but not in those expressing P-gp. These data suggest that indomethacin is a specific inhibitor of MRP, possibly functioning by inhibition of glutathione-S-transferase or, alternatively, by direct competition with the drug at the transport site.