Initial studies revealed that proline-directed protein kinase F(A) (PDPK F(A)) was overexpressed in various cancerous tissues relative to normal controls. However, the functional role of overexpressed PDPK F(A) in cancer remains to be established. In this report, we explore the potential role of PDPK F(A) in leukaemia cell growth by investigating the effects of partial inhibition of this kinase on the malignant phenotype of human chronic myeloid leukaemia cells (K562). Cloning of PDPK F(A) cDNA and its recombinant antisense expression vector and PDPK F(A)-specific antibody were successfully developed. Two stable antisense clones of K562 cells were subcloned which expressed 70% and 45% of PDPK F(A) respectively, compared with control-transfected clone in both immunoprecipitate activity assay and immunoblot analysis. In sharp contrast, these two antisense clones expressed no significant suppression of any other related PDPK family members, indicating the specificity of these two antisense clones. Moreover, these antisense clones proportionally and potentially exhibited cell growth retardation, poor clonogenic growth in soft agar and loss of serum independence. The results demonstrate that specific antisense suppression of PDPK F(A) is sufficient to interfere with the growth of K562 cells, indicating that PDPK F(A) is essential for human chronic myeloid leukaemia cell growth.