Artemisinin, a compound isolated from the sweet wormwood Artemisia annua L., has previously been shown to have selective toxicity towards cancer cells in vitro. In the present experiment, we studied the potential of artemisinin to prevent breast cancer development in rats treated with a single oral dose (50mg/kg) of 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA), known to induce multiple breast tumors. Starting from the day immediately after DMBA treatment, one group of rats was provided with a powdered rat-chow containing 0.02% artemisinin, whereas a control group was provided with plain powdered food. For 40 weeks, both groups of rats were monitored for breast tumors. Oral artemisinin significantly delayed (P<.002) and in some animals prevented (57% of artemisinin-fed versus 96% of the controls developed tumors, P<.01) breast cancer development in the monitoring period. In addition, breast tumors in artemisinin-fed rats were significantly fewer (P<.002) and smaller in size (P<.05) when compared with controls. Since artemisinin is a relatively safe compound that causes no known side effects even at high oral doses, the present data indicate that artemisinin may be a potent cancer-chemoprevention agent.