The present study was designed to determine the biological effects of novel marine alkaloid analog 7-(4-fluorobenzylamino)-1,3,4,8-tetrahydropyrrolo[4,3,2-de]quinolin-8(1H)-one (FBA-TPQ) on human ovarian cancer cells for its anti-tumor potential and the underlying mechanisms as a novel chemotherapeutic agent. Human ovarian cancer cells (A2780 and OVCAR-3), and Immortalized non-tumorigenic human Ovarian Surface Epithelial cells (IOSE-144), were exposed to FBA-TPQ for initial cytotoxicity evaluation (via MTS assay kit, Promega). The detailed in-vitro (cell level) and in-vivo (animal model) studies on the antitumor effects and possible underlying mechanisms of action of the compounds were then performed. FBA-TPQ exerted potent cytotoxicity against human ovarian cancer A2780 and OVCAR-3 cells as an effective inhibitor of cell growth and proliferation, while exerting lesser effects on non-tumorigenic IOSE-144 cells. Further study in the more sensitive OVCAR-3 cell line showed that it could potently induce cell apoptosis (Annexin V-FITC assay), G2/M cell cycle arrest (PI staining analysis) and also dose-dependently inhibit OVCAR-3 xenograft tumors' growth on female athymic nude mice (BALB/c, nu/nu). Mechanistic studies (both in vitro and in vivo) revealed that FBA-TPQ might exert its activity through Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS)-associated activation of the death receptor, p53-MDM2, and PI3K-Akt pathways in OVCAR-3 cells, which is in accordance with in vitro microarray (Human genome microarrays, Agilent) data analysis (GEO accession number: GSE25317). In conclusion, FBA-TPQ exhibits significant anticancer activity against ovarian cancer cells, with minimal toxicity to non-tumorigenic human IOSE-144 cells, indicating that it may be a potential therapeutic agent for ovarian cancer. © 2011 Chen et al.