Modulation of pathological angiogenesis by curcumin (diferuloylmethane), the active principle of turmeric, seems to be an important possibility meriting mechanistic investigations. In this report, we have studied the effect of curcumin on the growth of Ehrlich ascites tumor cells and endothelial cells in vitro. Further, regulation of tumor angiogenesis by modulation of angiogenic ligands and their receptor gene expression in tumor and endothelial cells, respectively, by curcumin was investigated. Curcumin, when injected intraperitoneally (i.p) into mice, effectively decreased the formation of ascites fluid by 66% in EAT bearing mice in vivo. Reduction in the number of EAT cells and human umbelical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in vitro by curcumin, without being cytotoxic to these cells, is attributed to induction of apoptosis by curcumin, as is evident by an increase in cells with fractional DNA content seen in our results on FACS analysis. However, curcumin had no effect on the growth of NIH3T3 cells. Curcumin proved to be a potent angioinhibitory compound, as demonstrated by inhibition of angiogenesis in two in vivo angiogenesis assay systems, viz. peritoneal angiogenesis and chorioallantoic membrane assay. The angioinhibitory effect of curcumin in vivo was corroborated by the results on down-regulation of the expression of proangiogenic genes, in EAT, NIH3T3, and endothelial cells by curcumin. Our results on Northern blot analysis clearly indicated a time-dependent (0-24h) inhibition by curcumin of VEGF, angiopoietin 1 and 2 gene expression in EAT cells, VEGF and angiopoietin 1 gene expression in NIH3T3 cells, and KDR gene expression in HUVECs. Further, decreased VEGF levels in conditioned media from cells treated with various doses of curcumin (1 microM-1mM) for various time periods (0-24h) confirm its angioinhibitory action at the level of gene expression. Because of its non-toxic nature, curcumin could be further developed to treat chronic diseases that are associated with extensive neovascularization.