We have explored the mechanism(s) underlying 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D's (1,25(OH)(2)D) suppression of agonist-induced vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation. Quiescent cultured adult rat VSMC were treated with 1,25(OH)(2)D for 48h and endothelin (ET) or angiotensin II (AII) for the final 24h. We show that VSMC responded to 1,25(OH)(2)D or its less hypercalcemic analogue RO 25-6760 with ∼70% inhibition of ET-dependent (3)H-thymidine incorporation. The inhibition was linked to a comparable reduction in ET-stimulated cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (Cdk2) activity and suppression of an ET-induced Cdk2 activator, cell division cycle 25 homolog A (Cdc25A). Both 1,25(OH)(2)D and RO 25-6760 completely inhibited the ET-dependent increase in Cdc25A mRNA and protein levels, phosphatase and promoter activities. 1,25(OH)(2)D also suppressed AII-induced DNA synthesis, Cdk2 activity and Cdc25A gene transcription. Inhibition of Cdc25A gene expression using a siRNA approach resulted in significant inhibition of ET or AII-dependent Cdk2 activity and (3)H-thymidine incorporation. The Cdc25A siRNA-mediated inhibition of ET or AII-induced Cdk2 activity and DNA synthesis was not additive with that produced by 1,25(OH)(2)D treatment. These data demonstrate that 1,25(OH)(2)D inhibits VSMC proliferation through a Cdc25A-dependent mechanism and suggest that this hormone may prove useful in the management of disorders characterized by aberrant proliferation of VSMC in the vascular wall.