Diverse types of voltage-gated potassium (K+) channels have been shown to be involved in regulation of cell proliferation. The maxi-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels (BK channels) may play an important role in the progression of human cancer. To explore the role of BK channels in regulation of apoptosis in human ovarian cancer cells, the effects of the specific BK channel activator NS1619 on induction of apoptosis in A2780 cells were observed. Following treatment with NS1619, cell proliferation was measured by MTT assay. Apoptosis of A2780 cells pretreated with NS1619 was detected by agarose gel electrophoresis of cellular DNA and flow cytometry. Our data demonstrate that NS1619 inhibits the proliferation of A2780 cells in a dosage and time dependent manner IC50=31.1 microM, for 48 h pretreatment and induces apoptosis. Western blot analyses showed that the anti-proliferation effect of NS1619 was associated with increased expression of p53, p21, and Bax. These results indicate that BK channels play an important role in regulating proliferation of human ovarian cancer cells and may induce apoptosis through induction of p21(Cip1) expression in a p53-dependent manner.