The chemopreventive effects of hydroxymatairesinol (HMR), a lignan extracted from Norway spruce (Picea abies), on the development of mammary carcinoma induced by 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) was studied in rats. HMR administered via diet in an average daily dose of 4.7 mg/kg body wt starting before DMBA induction reduced tumor volume and tumor growth, but no significant reduction in tumor multiplicity (number of tumors/rat) was observed. The predominant histological type in the control group was type B (well-differentiated adenocarcinoma, 78%). The proportion of type B tumors decreased to 35% in the HMR group, while the type A (poorly differentiated) and type C (atrophic) tumor proportions increased. Anticarcinogenic effects of dietary HMR (4.7 mg/kg) were also evident when the administration started after DMBA induction and was seen as growth inhibition of established tumors. Dietary HMR supplementation significantly increased serum and urinary enterolactone and HMR concentrations but had no significant effect on the uterine weight, suggesting that HMR or its major metabolite enterolactone did not have an antiestrogenic effect. Further studies are warranted to further clarify and verify HMR action and the associated mechanisms in mammary tumorigenesis.