Background and Aim: The phytoestrogen resveratrol is found in grapes, mulberries and peanuts, all of which are consumed regularly by humans. Resveratrol is also used in chemotherapy against cancer and aging and as a cardioprotectant. The aim of the present study was to characterize the effects of resveratrol on rat adrenal steroidogenesis and to study the underlying mechanism. Methods: Adrenocortical cells were isolated from the adrenal glands of normal male rats (in vitro) and from male rats administered resveratrol in their diet for 12 weeks (ex vivo). Cells from resveratrol-treated and non-treated rats were tested ex vivo for responsiveness to ACTH and cells from normal rats were tested in vitro for responsiveness to ACTH in the presence and absence of resveratrol. Corticosterone and progesterone production were measured by RIA and expression of steroidogenic enzymes analyzed by PAGE/Western blotting. Results: Corticosterone production was inhibited 47% by 50 µ M resveratrol in vitro and 20% ex vivo, while progesterone production was elevated to 400% of the control value in in vitro experiments. Resveratrol treatment decreased adrenal cytochrome P450 c21-hydroxylase expression in vivo and cell culture conditions. No changes in cell viability or morphology were caused by exposure to resveratrol in both ex vivo and in vitro experiments. Conclusion: Resveratrol suppresses corticosterone production by primary rat adrenocortical cell cultures in vitro and ex vivo by inhibiting cytochrome P450 c21-hydroxylase.