PURPOSE: Dasatinib is a dual Src/Abl inhibitor recently approved for Bcr-Abl+ leukemias with resistance or intolerance to prior therapy. Because Src kinases contribute to multiple blood cell functions by triggering a variety of signaling pathways, we hypothesized that their molecular targeting might lead to growth inhibition in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We studied growth factor-dependent and growth factor-independent leukemic cell lines, including three cell lines expressing mutants of receptor tyrosine kinases (Flt3 or c-Kit) as well as primary AML blasts for responsiveness to dasatinib. RESULTS: Dasatinib resulted in the inhibition of Src family kinases in all cell lines and blast cells at approximately 1 x 10(-9) mol/L. It also inhibited mutant Flt3 or Kit tyrosine phosphorylation at approximately 1 x 10(-6) mol/L. Mo7e cells expressing the activating mutation (codon 816) of c-Kit were most sensitive to growth inhibition with a GI(50) of 5 x 10(-9) mol/L. Primary AML blast cells exhibited a growth inhibition of <1 x 10(-6) mol/L. Cell lines that showed growth inhibition at approximately 1 x 10(-6) mol/L showed a G(1) cell cycle arrest and correlated with accumulation of p21 and p27 protein. The addition of rapamycin or cytotoxic agents enhanced growth inhibition. Dasatinib also caused the apoptosis of Mo7e cells expressing oncogenic Kit. CONCLUSIONS: Although all of the precise targets for dasatinib are not known, this multikinase inhibitor causes either growth arrest or apoptosis in molecularly heterogeneous AML. The addition of cytotoxic or targeted agents can enhance its effects.