Curcumin is the major yellow pigment extracted from turmeric, a commonly used spice in Asian cuisine and extensively employed in ayurvedic herbal remedies. A number of studies have shown that curcumin can be a prevention and a chemotherapeutic agent for colon, skin, oral and intestinal cancers. Curcumin is also well known for its antiinflammatory and antioxidant properties, showing high reactivity towards peroxyl radicals, and thus acting as a free radical scavenger. Recently, experimental studies have demonstrated that curcumin might be used in the prevention and the cure of Alzheimer's disease. Indeed, curcumin injected peripherally in vivo into aged Tg mice crossed the blood-brain barrier and bound to amyloid plaques, reducing amyloid levels and plaque formation decisively. The present review will resume the most recent developments in the medicinal chemistry of curcumin and curcumin-like molecules.