2'-Hydroxycinnamaldehyde (HCA) inhibits cell growth of several human cancer cells with unknown mechanisms. We investigated the inhibitory effect of HCA on TNF-alpha-induced cell growth and possible signal pathway in SW620 colon cancer cells. HCA inhibited TNF-alpha-induced SW620 colon cell growth in time- and dose-dependent manner through induction of apoptotic cell death. Parallel with inhibitory effect on cell growth, HCA dose dependency inhibited TNF-alpha-induced activation of NF-kappaB accompanied with inhibition of the translocation of p50. HCA also induced expression of caspase-3 and Bax, but decreased Bcl-2. HCA furthermore activated ERK pathway, and ERK inhibitor reversed inhibitory effect of HCA on cell growth and transcriptional activation of NF-kappaB. These results demonstrate that HCA inhibits cell growth through induction of apoptotic cell death by ERK pathway-dependent NF-kappaB inactivation.