microRNAs are endogenous small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression negatively at posttranscriptional level. This latest addition to the complex gene regulatory circuitry revolutionizes our way to understanding physiological and pathological processes in the human body. Here we investigated the possible role of microRNAs in the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) in gastric cancer cells. microRNA expression profiling revealed a limited set of microRNAs with altered expression in multidrug- resistant gastric cancer cell line SGC7901/VCR compared to its parental SGC7901 cell line. Among the downregulated microRNAs are miR-15b and miR-16, members of miR-15/16 family, whose expression was further validated by qRT-PCR. In vitro drug sensitivity assay demonstrated that overexpression of miR-15b or miR-16 sensitized SGC7901/VCR cells to anticancer drugs whereas inhibition of them using antisense oligonucleotides conferred SGC7901 cells MDR. The downregulation of miR-15b and miR-16 in SGC7901/VCR cells was concurrent with the upregulation of Bcl-2 protein. Enforced mir-15b or miR-16 expression reduced Bcl-2 protein level and the luciferase activity of a BCL2 3′ untranslated region-based reporter construct in SGC7901/VCR cells, suggesting that BCL2 is a direct target of miR-15b and miR-16. Moreover, overexpression of miR-15b or miR-16 could sensitize SGC7901/VCR cells to VCR-induced apoptosis. Taken together, our findings suggest that miR-15b and miR-16 could play a role in the development of MDR in gastric cancer cells at least in part by modulation of apoptosis via targeting BCL2. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.