Ginger's (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) natural bioactives, specifically ginger extract and 6-gingerol, were measured for their in vitro inhibition of two key aspects of colon cancer biology--cancer cell proliferation and angiogenic potential of endothelial cell tubule formation. Ginger extract was obtained via column distillation, while the 6-gingerol was purchased from Calbiochem. Antiproliferation activity was assessed through tritiated thymidine ([(3)H]Tdr) incorporation studies of YYT colon cancer cells; the anti-angiogenic ability of gingerol was assessed by a Matrigel assays using MS1 endothelial cells. These selected ginger bioactives had: 1) a direct effect on YYT rat cancer cell proliferation (6-1.5% ginger extract; 100-4 microM 6-gingerol); 2) an indirect effect on MS1 endothelial cell function either at the level of endothelial cell proliferation or through inhibition of MS1 endothelial cell tube formation (100-0.8 microM). Compound 6-gingerol was most effective at lower doses in inhibiting endothelial cell tube formation. These in vitro studies show that 6-gingerol has two types of antitumor effects: 1) direct colon cancer cell growth suppression, and 2) inhibition of the blood supply of the tumor via angiogenesis. Further research is warranted to test 6-gingerol in animal studies as a potential anticancer plant bioactive in the complementary treatment of cancer.