Quinidine regulates growth and differentiation in human breast tumor cells, but the immortalized mammary epithelial MCF-10A cell line is insensitive to quinidine. We found that a morphologically similar differentiation response was evoked by quinidine and c-myc antisense oligonucleotides in MCF-7 cells and this prompted us to investigate the actions of quinidine on c-myc gene expression. Myc protein levels were suppressed in human breast tumor cell lines, but not in MCF-10A cells, an observation that supports the hypothesis that suppression of c-myc gene expression is involved in the preferential growth and differentiation response of breast tumor cells to quinidine. Quinidine reduced c-myc mRNA levels in MCF-7 cells. Acute induction of c-myc mRNA by estradiol, as well as the c-myc response to sub-cultivation in fresh serum and H-ras driven elevations in c-myc mRNA were depressed by 50–60% in the presence of quinidine. Quinidine decreased c-myc promoter activity in MCF-7 cells in a transient reporter gene assay and a 168 bp region of human c-myc promoter (−100 to +68 with respect to the P1 promoter) was sufficient to confer responsiveness to quinidine. Quinidine is a potential lead compound for developing pharmacological agents to regulate Myc. In addition, the study of quinidine-regulated events is a promising approach to unravel differentiation control pathways that become disrupted in breast cancer. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.