Chemoprevention refers to the use of defined nontoxic chemical regimens to inhibit, reverse, or retard the process of multistage carcinogenesis that involves multiple signal transduction events. Identification of signaling molecules associated with carcinogenesis as prime targets of chemopreventive agents has become an area of great interest. Recent studies have implicated cysteine thiols present in various transcription factors, such as NF-kappaB, AP-1, and p53 as redox sensors in transcriptional regulation of many genes essential for maintaining cellular homeostasis. Some chemopreventive and cytoprotective agents have been found to target cysteine thiols present in key transcription factors or their regulators, thereby suppressing aberrant over-activation of carcinogenic signal transduction or restoring/normalizing or even potentiating cellular defense signaling. The focus of this review is the oxidation or covalent modification of thiol groups present in key representative redox-sensitive transcription factors and their regulating molecules as a unique strategy for molecular target-based chemoprevention and cytoprotection.