Development of effective agents for treatment of hormone-refractory prostate cancer has become a national medical priority. We have reported recently that apigenin (4',5,7-trihydroxyflavone), found in many common fruits and vegetables, has shown remarkable effects in inhibiting cell growth and inducing apoptosis in many human prostate carcinoma cells. Here we demonstrate the molecular mechanism of inhibitory action of apigenin on androgen-refractory human prostate carcinoma DU145 cells that have mutations in the tumor suppressor gene p53 and pRb. Treatment of cells with apigenin resulted in a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of growth, colony formation, and G1 phase arrest of the cell cycle. This effect was associated with a marked decrease in the protein expression of cyclin D1, D2, and E and their activating partner, cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk)2, 4, and 6, with concomitant upregulation of WAF1/p21, KIP1/p27, INK4a/p16, and INK4c/p18. The induction of WAF1/p21 and its growth inhibitory effects by apigenin appears to be independent of p53 and pRb status of these cells. Apigenin treatment also resulted in alteration in Bax/Bcl2 ratio in favor of apoptosis, which was associated with the release of cytochrome c and induction of apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (Apaf-1). This effect was found to result in a significant increase in cleaved fragments of caspase-9, -3, and poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Further, apigenin treatment resulted in downmodulation of the constitutive expression of nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB)/p65 and NF-kappaB/p50 in the nuclear fraction that correlated with an increase in the expression of IkappaB-alpha (IkappaBalpha) in the cytosol. Taken together, we concluded that molecular mechanisms during apigenin-mediated growth inhibition and induction of apoptosis in DU145 cells was due to (1) modulation in cell-cycle machinery, (2) disruption of mitochondrial function, and (3) NF-kappaB inhibition.