Flaxseed and its lignan secoisolariciresinol diglycoside (SDG) inhibit mammary tumor development in rats. Increased plasma insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) concentrations are associated with increased breast cancer risk. Therefore, the effect of flaxseed (5%) or SDG (1.5 mg/day) supplementation on plasma IGF-I levels was examined in rats treated with or without N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU). In MNU-free rats, flaxseed and SDG reduced plasma IGF-I levels, which were inversely related to urinary lignan excretion. Only flaxseed significantly reduced plasma IGF-I concentrations in MNU-treated rats. The anticancer effect of flaxseed and SDG may be related, in part, to reductions in plasma IGF-I.