Ginger, the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, is a traditional medicine with anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. This study examined the growth inhibitory effects of the structurally related compounds 6-gingerol and 6-shogaol on human cancer cells. 6-Shogaol [1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-4-decen-3-one] inhibits the growth of human cancer cells and induces apoptosis in COLO 205 cells through modulation of mitochondrial functions regulated by reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS generation occurs in the early stages of 6-shogaol-induced apoptosis, preceding cytochrome c release, caspase activation, and DNA fragmentation. Up-regulation of Bax, Fas, and FasL, as well as down-regulation of Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L )were observed in 6-shogaol-treated COLO 205 cells. N-acetylcysteine (NAC), but not by other antioxidants, suppress 6-shogaol-induced apoptosis. The growth arrest and DNA damage (GADD)-inducible transcription factor 153 (GADD153) mRNA and protein is markedly induced in a time- and concentration-dependent manner in response to 6-shogaol.