6-[3-(1-Adamantyl)-4-hydroxyphenyl]-2-naphthalene carboxylic acid (AHPN or CD437), originally identified as a retinoic acid receptor gamma-selective retinoid, was previously shown to induce growth inhibition and apoptosis in human breast cancer cells. In this study, we investigated the role of AHPN/CD437 and its mechanism of action in human lung cancer cell lines. Our results demonstrated that AHPN/CD437 effectively inhibited lung cancer cell growth by inducing G0/G1 arrest and apoptosis, a process that is accompanied by rapid induction of c-Jun, nur77, and p21(WAF1/CIP1). In addition, we found that expression of p53 and Bcl-2 was differentially regulated by AHPN/CD437 in different lung cancer cell lines and may play a role in regulating AHPN/CD437-induced apoptotic process. On constitutive expression of the c-JunAla(63,73) protein, a dominant-negative inhibitor of c-Jun, in A549 cells, nur77 expression and apoptosis induction by AHPN/CD437 were impaired, whereas p21(WAF1/CIP1) induction and G0/G1 arrest were not affected. Furthermore, overexpression of antisense nur77 RNA in A549 and H460 lung cancer cell lines largely inhibited AHPN/CD437-induced apoptosis. Thus, expression of c-Jun and nur77 plays a critical role in AHPN/CD437-induced apoptosis. Together, our results reveal a novel pathway for retinoid-induced apoptosis and suggest that AHPN/CD437 or analogs may have a better therapeutic efficacy against lung cancer.