The influences of salicylic acid (SA) on taxol production and isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP) biosynthesis pathways in suspension cultures of Taxus chinensis var. mairei were investigated by adding SA and mevastatin (MVS), a highly specific inhibitor of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase in the mevalonate pathway for IPP biosynthesis, into the culture systems. The cell death and taxol production were induced upon the introduction of SA, and 20 mg/l was proved to be the optimal SA concentration in terms of the less damage to Taxus cells and marked activation of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL). In the coexistence of SA (20 mg/l) and MVS (100 nmol/l), the taxol content (1.626 mg/g dry wt) was higher than that (0.252 mg/g dry wt) of the MVS-treated system but almost equal to that (1.581 mg/g dry wt) of the SA-treated system. It is thus inferred that the activated non-mevalonate pathway should be responsible for the formation of IPP in taxol biosynthesis in the presence of SA.