Previously we have shown that pivaloyloxymethyl butyrate (AN-9), a pro-drug of butyric acid (BA), is a differentiation-inducing agent in a variety of cells. In this report, we demonstrate that AN-9 is a cytostatic but not cytotoxic agent in a myelomonocytic cell line (WEHI); thus, the cells were growth-arrested and differentiated. These late changes in the cells were preceded by changes in the expression of the early regulatory genes, c-myc and c-jun, although initiation of all these events had already occurred after 1 h exposure to AN-9, the tumorigenicity of these cells tested in Balb/c mice was not affected. a marked reduction in the tumorigenicity of AN-9-treated cells was observed after 4 h of exposure. Exposure of the highly metastatic subclone of Lewis lung carcinoma (3LLD122) to AN-9 resulted in a very pronounced effect on the tumorigenicity of these cells tested in C57BL mice. Unlike WEHI cells, the tumorigenicity of 3LLD122 was almost completely diminished after 1 h of exposure. In both cell types a 10-fold higher concentration of BA did not affect the tumorigenicity of the cells as did AN-9.