In this study, we examined whether or not a small peptide derived from p16(INK4A) protein with the antennapedia carrier sequence could inhibit the growth of pancreatic cancer cells through the inhibition of cell cycle progression. Growth inhibition by the p16-derived peptide was observed in a time- and dose-dependent manner in AsPC-1 and BxPC-3 cells (p16-negative and pRb-positive), whereas Saos-2 cells (p16-positive and pRb-negative) showed no inhibitory effect. In AsPC-1 and BxPC-3 cells, the proportion of cells in the G(1) phase markedly increased 48 h after treatment with 20 microM p16-derived peptide. Cell-cycle analysis of Saos-2 cells showed little change during the entire period of treatment. Immunoblot analysis showed inhibition of pRb phosphorylation after treatment of BxPC-3 with 10 microM p16 peptide. Furthermore, the p16 peptide caused a decrease in cyclin A at later times of treatment. These results demonstrate that the p16-derived peptide can inhibit the growth of p16-negative and pRb-positive pancreatic cancer cells by means of G(1) phase cell cycle arrest resulting from the inhibition of pRb phosphorylation. Restoration of p16/pRb tumor-suppressive pathway by re-expression of p16(INK4A) may play a therapeutic role in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.