Turmeric has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a treatment for inflammatory disorders including arthritis. On the basis of this traditional usage, dietary supplements containing turmeric rhizome and turmeric extracts are also being used in the western world for arthritis treatment and prevention. However, to our knowledge, no data are available regarding antiarthritic efficacy of complex turmeric extracts similar in composition to those available for use as dietary supplements. Therefore, the studies described here were undertaken to determine the in vivo efficacy of well-characterized curcuminoid-containing turmeric extracts in the prevention or treatment of arthritis using streptococcal cell wall (SCW)-induced arthritis, a well-described animal model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritic index, a clinical measure of joint swelling, was used as the primary endpoint for assessing the effect of extracts on joint inflammation. An essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction containing 41% of the three major curcuminoids was efficacious in preventing joint inflammation when treatment was started before, but not after, the onset of joint inflammation. A commercial sample containing 94% of the three major curcuminoids was more potent in preventing arthritis than the essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction when compared by total curcuminoid dose per body weight. In conclusion, these data (1) document the in vivo antiarthritic efficacy of an essential oil-depleted turmeric fraction and (2) suggest that the three major curcuminoids are responsible for this antiarthritic effect, while the remaining compounds in the crude turmeric extract may inhibit this protective effect.