ABSTRACT The anticancer efficacy of two different classes of NSAIDs, the nonspecific cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitor aspirin and the specific COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib, was examined at their therapeutic anti-inflammatory doses during 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon carcinogenesis in a rat model. Eight to 10-week-old male rats of Sprague strain were divided into four groups. While group 1 served as control and received the vehicle of the drugs, groups 2, 3, and 4 were administered freshly prepared DMH in 1 mM EDTA saline (pH 7.0) (30 mg/kg body weight/week, subcutaneously). Groups 3 and 4 were also given a daily treatment of aspirin (60 mg/kg body weight, orally) and celecoxib (6 mg/kg body weight, orally), respectively, both prepared in carboxy-methyl cellulose. Animals were sacrificed at the end of 12 weeks and colons from different groups were subjected to macroscopic and histopathological studies, enzymatic activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT), and determination of lipid peroxide level. The maximum number of raised mucosal lesions in proximal, middle, and distal regions of the colon was found in the DMH group alone, and the lowest number was found in the celecoxib-treated DMH group. Histological studies also showed the highest occurrence of dysplastic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) associated with enlarged lymphoid follicles in all the three portions of colon (i.e., proximal, middle, and distal). The aspirin-administered DMH group had lesser ACF in the proximal and middle portions and no ACF in the distal region. The celecoxib-administered DMH group showed no ACF in the middle region of the rat colon. DMH treatment induced lipid peroxidation and inhibited the activities of SOD and CAT. Both the aspirin- and celecoxib-treated DMH groups showed a marked lowering of the lipid peroxide level along with a significant enhancement of CAT activity when compared with the DMH-treated group. The results show that celecoxib was found to be more effective in reducing the ACF occurrence and aggregates of lymphoid tissue than the nonselective COX inhibitor aspirin, and suggests a possible chemoprevention modality in colon cancer. This may have important implications as COX-2 selective drugs at anti-inflammatory doses are better tolerated clinically than standard NSAIDs, thus making them potentially better chemopreventive agents in colon cancer.