The PPAR-gamma ligands, 15-deoxy-Delta(12,14)-prostaglandin J(2) and ciglitazone, and the PPAR-alpha ligand, WY-14643, were examined for their effects on proliferation and apoptosis of A375 melanoma, DU145 and PC3 prostate cancer, and MB-MDA-231 breast cancer. While 15-deoxy-Delta(12,14)-prostaglandin J(2) inhibited proliferation of A375 melanoma, ciglitazone was inactive against this and the other cell lines. Restriction of specific amino acids known to inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis sensitized all cell lines to ciglitazone, and the combined effects were greater than the individual effects of either treatment. WY-14643 alone or in combination with amino acid deprivation was inactive. Normal fibroblasts were resistant to the treatments.