Puerarin was isolated from Pueraria radix and has beneficial effects on cardiovascular, neurological, and hyperglycemic disorders. The current study showed that puerarin also possessed anti-cancer properties. Methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium assay (MTT) assay revealed a dose-dependent reduction of HT-29 cellular growth in response to puerarin treatment. Apoptosis was observed following treatments ;with >or=25 microM puerarin, as reflected by the appearance of the subdiploid fraction and NDA fragmentations. We then investigated effects of puerarin on expression of apoptosis-associated genes and the results revealed an increase of bax and decreases of c-myc and bcl-2. Finally, puerarin treatment significantly increased the activation of caspase-3, a key executioner of apoptosis. These findings indicate that puerarin may act as a chemopreventive and/or chemotherapeutic agent in colon cancer cells by reducing cell viability and inducing apoptosis.