In human HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells, diazepinylbenzoic acid derivatives can exhibit either antagonistic or synergistic effects on the differentiation-inducing activities of natural or synthetic retinoids, the activity depending largely on the nature of the substituents on the diazepine ring. Thus, a benzolog of the retinoid antagonist LE135 (6), 4-(13H-10,11,12,13-tetrahydro-10, 10,13,13,15-pentamethyldinaphtho[2,3-b][1,2-e]diazepin-7-yl) benzoic acid (LE540, 17), exhibits a 1 order of magnitude higher antagonistic potential than the parental LE135 (6). In contrast, 4-[5H-2,3-(2,5-dimethyl-2,5-hexano)-5-methyldibenzo[b,e] [1,4]diazepin-11-yl]-benzoic acid (HX600, 7), a structural isomer of the antagonistic LE135 (6), enhanced HL-60 cell differentiation induced by RAR agonists, such as Am80 (2). This synergistic effect was further increased for a thiazepine, HX630 (29), and an azepine derivative, HX640 (30); both synergized with Am80 (2) more potently than HX600 (7). Notably, the negative and positive effects of the azepine derivatives on retinoidal actions can be related to their RAR-antagonistic and RXR-agonistic properties, respectively, in the context of the RAR-RXR heterodimer.