Honey is thought to exhibit a broad spectrum of therapeutic properties including antibacterial, antifungal, cytostatic and anti-inflammatory activity and has been used for the treatment of gastric ulcers, burns, and for storage of skin grafts. The present study investigated the antitumor effect of bee honey against Ehrlich ascites tumor in mice and the possible mode of antitumor action. Peroral administration of mice with honey (10, 100 or 1000 mg/ 100 g BW) every other day for 4 weeks before intraperitoneal inoculation with Ehrlich ascites tumor (EAT, 1 x 10(6) cells) increased the number bone marrow cells as well as peritoneal macrophages, but not peripheral blood leukocytes nor splenocytes. The phagocytic function of macrophages as well as the T- and B-cell functions were also increased. Honey pre-treatment also recovered the total lipids, total proteins, as well as liver and kidney enzyme activities in EAT-bearing mice. In vitro studies on EAT cells demonstrated inhibitory effect of honey on tumor cell proliferation, viability % of tumor cells as well as the size of solid tumor. The present results indicate that the preventive treatment with honey is considerably effective against EAT in mice both in vivo and in vitro. The antitumor activity of honey may occur through the activation of macrophages, T-cells and B-cells.