Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) has continued to receive attention as a folk medicine with indications for the treatment of cancers and digestive diseases. The anticarcinogenic effect of Chaga mushroom extract was investigated using a model system of gap junctional intercellular communication (GJIC) in WB-F344 normal rat liver epithelial cells. The cells were pre-incubated with Chaga mushroom extracts (5, 10, 20 microg/ml) for 24 h and this was followed by co-treatment with Chaga mushroom extracts and TPA (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate, 10 ng/ml) for 1 h. The inhibition of GJIC by TPA (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate), promoter of cancer, was prevented with treatment of Chaga mushroom extracts. Similarly, the increased phosphorylated ERK1/2 and p38 protein kinases were markedly reduced in Chaga mushroom extracts-treated cells. There was no change in the JNK kinase protein level, suggesting that Chaga mushroom extracts could only block the activation of ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinase. The Chaga mushroom extracts further prevented the inhibition of GJIC through the blocking of Cx43 phosphorylation. Indeed cell-to-cell communication through gap junctional channels is a critical factor in the life and death balance of cells because GJIC has an important function in maintaining tissue homeostasis through the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and adaptive functions of differentiated cells. Thus Chaga mushroom may act as a natural anticancer product by preventing the inhibition of GJIC through the inactivation of ERK1/2 and p38 MAP kinase.