Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a yellow pigment in the spice turmeric (also called curry powder), has been used for centuries as a treatment for inflammatory diseases. Extensive research within the past two decades has shown that curcumin mediates its anti-inflammatory effects through the downregulation of inflammatory transcription factors (such as nuclear factor kappaB), enzymes (such as cyclooxygenase 2 and 5 lipoxygenase) and cytokines (such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin 1 and interleukin 6). Because of the crucial role of inflammation in most chronic diseases, the potential of curcumin has been examined in neoplastic, neurological, cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic diseases. The pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics of curcumin have been examined in animals and in humans. Various pharmacological aspects of curcumin in vitro and in vivo are discussed in detail here.