Chemoprevention, which is referred to as the use of nontoxic natural or synthetic chemicals to intervene in multistage carcinogenesis, has emerged as a promising and pragmatic medical approach to reduce the risk of cancer. Numerous components of edible plants, collectively termed "phytochemicals" have been reported to possess substantial chemopreventive properties. Curcumin, a yellow coloring ingredient derived from Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae), is one of the most extensively investigated and well-defined chemopreventive phytochemicals. Curcumin has been shown to protect against skin, oral, intestinal, and colon carcinogenesis and also to suppress angiogenesis and metastasis in a variety animal tumor models. It also inhibits the proliferation of cancer cells by arresting them in the various phases of the cell cycle and by inducing apoptosis. Moreover, curcumin has a capability to inhibit carcinogen bioactivation via suppression of specific cytochrome P450 isozymes, as well as to induce the activity or expression of phase II carcinogen detoxifying enzymes. Well-designed intervention studies are necessary to assess the chemopreventive efficacy of curcumin in normal individuals as well as high-risk groups. Sufficient data from pharmacodynamic as well as mechanistic studies are necessary to advocate clinical evaluation of curcumin for its chemopreventive potential.