As part of a systematic study of the effects of phytochemicals beyond antioxidation on cancer prevention, we investigated whether naringenin (NR), a citrus flavonoid, stimulates DNA repair following oxidative damage in LNCaP human prostate cancer cells. The 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OH-dG) to deoxyguanosine (dG) ratio was measured after cells were treated with 200 micromol/L of ferrous sulfate in serum-free medium followed by NR exposure for 24 h in growth medium. The results demonstrated that exposure to 10-80 micromol/L of NR led to a significant decrease in the ratio of 8-OH-dG to 10(6) dG. Because cells were treated with NR after ferrous sulfate was removed, we conclude that we demonstrated an effect on DNA repair beyond antioxidation. In support of this conclusion, we determined the induction of mRNA expression over time after oxidative stress followed by NR administration of three major enzymes in the DNA base excision repair (BER) pathway: 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase 1 (hOGG1), apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease and DNA polymerase beta (DNA poly beta). hOGG1 and DNA poly beta mRNA expression in cells after 24-h exposure to NR was increased significantly compared with control cells without NR. The intracellular concentration of NR after exposure to 80 micromol/L was 3 pmol/mg protein, which is physiologically achievable in tissues. In conclusion, the cancer-preventive effects of citrus fruits demonstrated in epidemiological studies may be due in part to stimulation of DNA repair by NR, which by stimulating BER processes may prevent mutagenic changes in prostate cancer cells.