Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors are ligand-activated intracellular transcription factors that have been implicated in important biological processes such as inflammation, tissue remodeling and atherosclerosis. Emerging information also implicates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors in oncogenesis. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, the best studied of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors, modulates the proliferation and apoptosis of many cancer cell types, and it is expressed in many human tumors including lung, breast, colon, prostate and bladder. Natural and synthetic agents capable of activating peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma have been found to inhibit cancer cell growth in vitro and in animal models. These agents, however, are not specific and both peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-dependent and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma-independent pathways involved in their effects have been identified. Together, these studies, coupled with a few clinical trials, suggest that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma is a novel target for the development of new and effective anticancer therapies.