Lunasin is a novel cancer preventive peptide whose efficacy against chemical carcinogens and oncogenes has been demonstrated in mammalian cells and a skin cancer mouse model. In contrast, constitutive expression of the lunasin gene in mammalian cells leads to arrest of cell division and cell death. Isolated and characterized in soy, lunasin peptide is also documented in barley and wheat and is predicted to be present in many more seeds because of its possible role in seed development. Initial studies show that lunasin is bioavailable in mice when orally ingested. Lunasin internalizes into mammalian cells within minutes of exogenous application, and localizes in the nucleus after 18 h. It inhibits acetylation of core histones in mammalian cells but does not affect the growth rate of normal and established cancer cell lines. An epigenetic mechanism of action is proposed whereby lunasin selectively kills cells being transformed or newly transformed cells by binding to deacetylated core histones exposed by the transformation event, disrupting the dynamics of histone acetylation-deacetylation.