In this study we show that the addition of fresh culture medium to high-density growth-arrested 7TD1 cells induces a strong and transient stimulation of the c-Jun NH2 terminal kinase activity (Jun kinase/JNK), a marked increase in cyclin D2 expression, the phosphorylation of pRb, and the transition from G(1) to S phase. The stimulation of cyclin D2 expression and the induction of JNK activity appear to be the consequences of the alkalinization of the extracellular medium. Indeed both parameters (i) can be induced, regardless of cell dilution, by the addition of a weak base such as triethylamine, and (ii) are together inhibited by (N-ethyl-N-isopropyl)amiloride, a specific inhibitor of the Na(+)/H(+) exchanger. We provide a strong argument indicating the existence of a direct correlation between JNK1 activation and cyclin D2 stimulation. Indeed, we demonstrate that cyclin D2 expression is blocked by SB 202190, an agent known to inhibit both JNK and p38(MAPK), but not by SB 203580, a specific inhibitor of p38(MAPK). Furthermore, we also observed that DMSO and forskolin, two agents that inhibit the proliferation of 7TD1 cells, inhibit in parallel cyclin D2 and JNK1. Altogether our results suggest that (i) JNK1 participates in the signaling pathway which controls the expression of cyclin D2 and (ii) that the inhibition of JNK1 by DMSO and forskolin could explain, at least in part, the antiproliferative action of these drugs in 7TD1 cells.