Pancreatic cancer is one of the tumors with the highest mortality, poorly responding to available chemotherapeutic agents. The objective of this study was to study the anticancer effects of all-trans retinoid acid, a functional form of vitamin A, on pancreatic cancer cells. Human pancreatic cancer MiaPaCa-2 cells were treated with 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 μM ATRA for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 d, respectively. Cell growth was determined by MTT viability assay. The cell cycle distribution and the alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity were analyzed by flow cytometry and chemical analyzer, respectively. The results show that ATRA significantly inhibited the growth of MiaPaCa-2 cells at 40 and 50μM. ATRA arrested pancreatic cancer cells at G0/G1 phase. The sub-G1 peak and DNA fragmentation were observed. There were time and dose dependent increases in alkaline phosphatase activity (ALP), an indicator of cell differentiation, upon treatment with ATRA when compared to controls. In conclusion, ATRA has an inhibitory effect on the cell growth of MiaPaCa-2, and its tumor suppressive effect is by means of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis induction.