Zac1 is a new zinc finger protein that concomitantly controls apoptosis and cell cycle arrest through separate pathways. The mouse Zac1 gene is mainly expressed in the pituitary gland and in different brain areas. In this study regional and cellular expression of Zac1 in the pituitary gland was determined by in situ hybridization. Zac1 messenger RNA was abundantly expressed in the anterior pituitary lobe compared with that in the intermediate and posterior lobes. Zac1 transcripts were found in all hormone-secreting cell types, with the highest levels in GH- and PRL-producing cells. To investigate the impact of Zac1 in pituitary cell proliferation, we ablated the endogenous Zac1 gene by antisense treatment in two murine cell types, AtT-20 and TtT/GF, that are representative of granular and agranular cell lineages, respectively. The decline in Zac1 protein levels under antisense treatment was accompanied by increased DNA synthesis in clonal corticotroph and folliculo-stellate cells, as demonstrated by enhanced [3H]thymidine incorporation (36% and 50%, respectively). Antisense oligonucleotides against Zac1 controlled cell proliferation in a dose-dependent way, and mutagenized antisense oligonucleotides were inert. Conclusively, our data provide the first evidence of a role for Zac1 in pituitary growth control.