BACKGROUND: The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate [PDTC; a nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappa B) inhibitor] and bortezomib (Velcade; a proteasome inhibitor) on the development of experimental endometriotic implants in rats. METHODS: Endometriosis was surgically induced in 30 rats using the method of Vernon and Wilson. Three weeks later the viability and volume of the implants were recorded and classified. Afterwards, rats were put into three groups with equal numbers. The groups were labelled as the control, the PDTC and the bortezomib groups. Seven days after treatment, a third laparotomy was done and the volume of implants was measured again. The animals were then sacrificed, and the implants were stained with Ki67, proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), CD34, CD31 and Masson's trichrome histochemical staining. RESULTS: In 80% of the implanted rats, vesicles at the suture region were observed, and the rats graded according to average vesicle diameter (D) as: Grade 1 (no vesicle, 20% of rats), Grade 2 (D < 2 mm, 33.3% of rats), Grade 3 (2 mm < D > 4.5 mm, 26.7% of rats) and Grade 4 (D > 4.5 mm, 20% of rats). After treatment with PDTC or bortezomib, these percentages were decreased for Grades 3 and 4, and increased in Grade 1. The post-treatment implant volumes were decreased in the PDTC and bortezomib groups (P < 0.002 and P < 0.001), and slightly increased in the control group (P = 0.279). In the PDTC and bortezomib groups, CD34, CD31, PCNA and Ki67 expression levels were similar but were significantly reduced compared with the control group. CONCLUSIONS: PDTC and bortezomib may represent a novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of endometriosis.