The anti-tumor promoting activity of a polyphenolic fraction from grape seeds (GSP) was examined in CD-1 mouse skin epidermis. Specifically, the ability of this fraction to inhibit 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA)-induced tumor promotion and two markers of promotion in mouse skin, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activities, was evaluated. Pretreatment of mouse skin with 5, 10, 20 and 30 mg of GSP resulted in a dose-dependent reduction in TPA-induced epidermal ODC activity of 27, 37, 48 and 70%, respectively, compared to controls. In addition, pretreatment of mouse skin with 1, 5, 10 and 20 mg of GSP resulted in a significant 43, 39, 54 and 73% inhibition of MPO activity, respectively, compared to controls. In 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)-initiated CD-1 mice, biweekly treatment of mouse skin with 5, 10, and 20 mg of GSP 20 min prior to TPA application resulted in a 30, 40, and 60% inhibition of final skin tumor incidence, respectively, compared to controls. In addition, the final number of tumors per mouse in the 5, 10 and 20 mg GSP-treated animals was decreased 63, 51, and 94%, respectively, compared to controls. These studies indicate that GSP possesses anti-tumor promoting activity when applied to CD-1 mouse skin prior to treatment with TPA. The mechanism of this tumor inhibition is due, in part, to a GSP-associated inhibition of TPA-induced epidermal ODC and MPO activities. Thus, GSP warrants further evaluation as a skin cancer chemopreventative agent.