Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third main cause of cancer-related death. Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and their cyclin partners regulate the cell cycle. Since inhibition of CDKs gives some guiding ideas for cancer studies, we aimed to determine the possible effects of R547, a cyclin kinase 1-2-4 inhibitor, on proliferation and apoptotic mechanisms of Hep G2 cells (human) and H-4-II-E cells derived from rat HCC. We determined in vitro survival rates with MTT assay, apoptosis with flow cytometry, morphological changes with confocal microscopy, and ultrastructural changes by transmission electron microscopy. Cisplatin was used as a positive control. After 24 h of culture with 0.1, 1, 10, 50, and 100 pM doses of R547, the corresponding percentages of live Hep G2 cells were 101%, 94%, 93%, 89%, and 79% (P < 0.001), respectively. However, with the same R547 doses the live Hep G2 cell percentages were 92%, 101%, 53.6% (1) <0 .01), 47.4% (P < 0.001), and 41% (P < 0.001), respectively, after 48 h. After 24 h of incubation with the same doses of R547, the survival percentages of live rat cells were 90%, 80% (P < 0.01), 63% (P < 0.001), 47% (P < 0.001), and 43% (P < 0.001), respectively. 'The percentages of surviving H-4-II-E cells were 96%, 85% (P < 0.01), 46% (P < 0.001), 44% (P < 0.001), and 45% (P < 0.01), respectively, after 48 h. Since 8547 did not significantly affect Hep G2 cell survival in 24 h, experiments of apoptosis were carried out with H-4-II-E cells. 'I he early apoptotic rates of 38% and 45% (P < 0.05 for both) after applications of 10 and 25 mu M R547 (control: 4.1%), respectively, indicated that R547 has an apoptotic effect on H-4-II-E cells in 24 h. The apoptosis morphology at 24 h of treatment was clearly observed with microscopic examinations. According to our results, it is obvious that R547 has antiproliferative action when compared to cisplatin.