Polyphenolic compounds are widely distributed in the plant kingdom and display a variety of biological activities, including chemoprevention and tumor growth inhibition. Propolis is made up of a variety of polyphenolic compounds. We compared how the routes of administration of polyphenolic compounds deriving from propolis and of propolis itself affect the growth and metastatic potential of a transplantable mammary carcinoma (MCa) of the CBA mouse. The influence of tested compounds on local tumor growth was also studied. Metastases in the lung were generated by 2 x 10(5) tumor cells injected intravenously (IV). A water-soluble derivative of propolis (WSDP) and polyphenolic compounds (caffeic acid, CA, and CA phenethyl ester, CAPE) were given to mice per os (PO) or intraperitoneally (IP) before or after tumor cell inoculation. Tested compounds significantly decreased the number of lung colonies. When mice were inoculated with 10(5) MCa cells in the exact site of subcutaneous injection of different doses of WSDP, CA, or CAPE, tumor growth was inhibited, and survival of treated mice was prolonged. Antitumor activity, according to the results obtained, is mostly related to the immunomodulatory properties of the compounds and their capacity to induce apoptosis and necrosis. In conclusion, results presented here indicate that WSDP, CA, and CAPE could be potential useful tools in the control of tumor growth in experimental tumor models when administrated PO; because PO administration is the easiest way of introducing a compound used for prevention and/or cure of any disease, it is likely that this article has reached the goal of the investigation.