The effect of sulforaphane on human lymphoblastoid cells originating from a patient of a high cancer risk was studied. Sulforaphane (SFN) is a naturally occurring substance of chemopreventive activity. In our study, changes in cell growth, induction of apoptosis and phase 2 enzymes as well as glutathione level were examined. Apoptosis was tested by confocal microscopy at three stages: change in mitochondrial membrane potential, caspase activation and phosphatidylserine externalization. We show that SFN increases the activity of the detoxification system: it increases quinone reductase activity at low concentration (0.5-1 microM) and raises glutathione level in a dose-dependent manner. At higher doses (2.5-10 microM) sulforaphane is a cell growth modulator, as it caused cell growth cessation (IC50 = 3.875 microM), and apoptosis inducer. The results obtained suggest that sulforaphane acts as a chemopreventive agent in human lymphoblastoid cells.