The dose-response relationship in male F344 rats was determined for the ability of aspirin administered in the diet to prevent azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colon cancer and aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and to reduce prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) levels. Starting at either 7 or 22 weeks of age, the rats received aspirin. All rats received two doses of AOM (15 mg/kg each on days 7 and 14) and were killed on day 36. The lowest concentrations of aspirin to prevent ACF or reduce PGE2 levels were 600 and 400 mg/kg, respectively. To evaluate the prevention of tumors, rats received either 0 or 400 mg/kg aspirin for a total of 39 weeks with AOM (30 mg/kg) administered 7 days after the start of treatment. Aspirin had no effect on the yield of colon tumors. In a second experiment, rats started to receive 0, 200, 600 or 1800 mg/kg aspirin or 1000 mg/kg alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO) +/- aspirin. Eight and 15 days later, all the rats received 15 mg/kg AOM. Eleven weeks later, animals that were receiving the control diet started to receive 0, 200, 600 or 1800 mg/kg aspirin; 1000 or 3000 mg/kg DFMO; or 1000 mg/kg DFMO + 200 or 600 mg/kg aspirin. The animals were killed 32 weeks later. DFMO effectively reduced the yield of colon tumors when administered starting either before or after AOM while aspirin was much weaker. The combination of aspirin + DFMO administered after AOM was synergistic. Both aspirin and DFMO decreased the Mitotic Index, while apoptosis was increased only by DFMO. Our results demonstrated that aspirin and DFMO could prevent colon cancer when administered after AOM. Furthermore, aspirin reduced ACF, PGE2 levels and mitosis at concentrations that did not prevent cancer. In contrast, the ability to enhance apoptosis did correlate with the prevention of cancer.