Studies have described the protective role of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in certain types of cancer. In this study, we report the effects of vitamin C treatment of two androgen independent prostate cancer cell lines from human (PC3) and rat (Mat-Ly-Lu or MLL) sources. In vitro treatment of PC3 and MLL with sodium ascorbate acid (0-10 mM) resulted in a decrease in cell viability and thymidine incorporation into DNA. These effects of vit. C were dose and time dependent. Ascorbate induced these changes through the production of hydrogen peroxide since addition of catalase (100-300 units/ml), an enzyme that degrades hydrogen peroxide, inhibited the effects of ascorbate on these cell lines. In contrast, superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that dismutates superoxide and generates hydrogen peroxide did not prevent ascorbate-induced changes emphasizing the involvement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cellular damage. That singlet oxygen scavengers such as sodium azide and hydroquinone, hydroxyl radical scavengers such as D-mannitol and DL-alpha-tocopherol did not counteract the effects of ascorbate on thymidine incorporation suggests that these free radicals are not involved in cellular damage. In conclusion, these results suggest that vitamin C inhibits tumor growth by virtue of producing reactive oxygen species. These results suggest that ascorbate is a potent anticancer agent for prostate cancer cells.