Dietary energy restriction (DER) inhibits carcinogenesis in numerous animal models. DER is a potent and reproducible inhibitor of two-stage mouse skin carcinogenesis when administered during the promotion phase. Previous research demonstrated that adrenalectomy abolished cancer prevention by food restriction. Several lines of evidence suggest that glucocorticoid elevation in the DER mouse mediates the prevention of skin cancer. Our research tested the hypothesis that elevated glucocorticoid hormone activates the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and that this activated receptor interferes with the activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcription factor. Induction of AP-1 by the phorbol ester tumor promoter 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) is essential to tumor promotion. We have been unable to demonstrate elevated activated GR in the epidermis of the DER mouse, perhaps because only indirect strategies have been possible with the use of epidermis from DER mice. However, DER blocked the induction of AP-1 and c-jun, a constituent protein of AP-1, in the epidermis of mice. Current studies are focused on the inhibition of signaling down the MAP-1/Raf-1 kinase pathway that leads to induction of constituent proteins of AP-1, including c-Jun. Although several pathways lead to the induction of AP-1 transcriptional activity, the MAP-1/Raf-1 pathway can be activated by protein kinase C (PKC); previous studies from our laboratory demonstrated an inhibition of PKC activity and a reduction in selected isoforms of PKC in the epidermis of the DER mouse. Our current working hypothesis is that elevated glucocorticoid hormone in the DER mouse reduces the amount and activity of PKC isoforms important in the activation of MAP-1/Raf-1 kinase pathway. We propose that this results in attenuation in the induction of the AP-1 transcription factor by TPA. Because AP-1 induction by TPA is obligatory for mouse skin promotion, we propose this as an essential component of the mechanism of DER prevention of mouse skin carcinogenesis.