Proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) is a crucial event in cardiovascular diseases. Isorhynchophylline, an alkaloid from a traditional Chinese medicine Gambirplant, has been used to treat cardiovascular diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of isorhynchophylline on angiotensin II (Ang II)-induced proliferation of rat VSMCs. VSMCs were isolated from rat artery and cultured for 14 days before experimentation. The effect of isorhynchophylline on Ang II-induced proliferation was evaluated by cell number, MTT assay and flow cytometry, and nitric oxide (NO) content and activity of NO synthase (NOS) were measured. The expression of proto-oncogene c-fos, osteopontin (OPN) and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) mRNAs was measured by real-time RT-PCR. VSMC cultures were verified by morphology and immunostaining with a-smooth muscle actin. Isorhynchophylline (0.1-10.0 μM) was not toxic to VSMCs, but markedly decreased Ang II (1.0/M)-enhanced cell number and MTT intensity, and blocked cell transition from G0/G1 to S phase. Furthermore, isorhynchophylline increased the NO content and NOS activity, and suppressed Ang II-induced over-expression of c-fos, OPN and PCNA. Thus, isorhynchophylline was effective against Ang-II induced cell proliferation, an effect that appears to be due, at least in part, to increased NO production, regulation of the cell cycle, and depressed expression of c-fos, OPN and PCNA related to VMSC proliferation.