In the present study, we utilised an in vitro digestion procedure to deliver molecules contained in tomatoes to cultured cells and to analyse potential mechanisms underlying the antitumoural effects of tomatoes reported in the literature. Ripe tomatoes underwent in vitro simulated digestion and the aqueous fraction obtained was delivered to HT-29 and HCT-116 colon adenocarcinoma cells. The amount of lycopene released during digestion and transferred to the aqueous fraction during digestion was 10-fold lower than that present in tomato homogenate before digestion. The carotenoid was accumulated by colon adenocarcinoma cells in a dose-dependent manner after the addition of tomato digestate (20-100 ml/l) for 24 h. Tomato digestate inhibited the growth of HT-29 and HCT-116 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Growth inhibition resulted from an arrest of cell cycle progression at the G0/G1 phase and by apoptosis induction. A down regulation of cyclin D1, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL expression was also observed, without apparent changes in p53, p21, p27 and Bax. In conclusion, the present data demonstrate that the in vitro digestion procedure represents a useful approach to supply tomato to colon cultured cells. Moreover, we have shown that tomato digestate is able to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells by modulating the expression of regulators of the cell cycle and apoptosis.