Commercially prepared grape (Vitis vinifera), bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.), and chokeberry (Aronia meloncarpa E.) anthocyanin-rich extracts (AREs) were investigated for their potential chemopreventive activity against colon cancer. The growth of colon-cancer-derived HT-29 and nontumorigenic colonic NCM460 cells exposed to semipurified AREs (10-75 microg of monomeric anthocyanin/mL) was monitored for up to 72 h using a sulforhodamine B assay. All extracts inhibited the growth of HT-29 cells, with chokeberry ARE being the most potent inhibitor. HT-29 cell growth was inhibited approximately 50% after 48 h of exposure to 25 microg/mL chokeberry ARE. Most importantly, the growth of NCM460 cells was not inhibited at lower concentrations of all three AREs, illustrating greater growth inhibition of colon cancer, as compared to nontumorigenic colon cells. Extracts were semipurified and characterized by high-pressure liquid chromatography, spectrophotometry, and colorimetry. Grape anthocyanins were the glucosylated derivatives of five different anthocyanidin molecules, with or without p-coumaric acid acylation. Bilberry contained five different anthocyanidins glycosylated with galactose, glucose, and arabinose. Chokeberry anthocyanins were cyanidin derivatives, monoglycosylated mostly with galactose and arabinose. The varying compositions and degrees of growth inhibition suggest that the anthocyanin chemical structure may play an important role in the growth inhibitory activity of commercially available AREs.