This study aimed to evaluate the antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic activity of turmeric essential oil as well as to establish biochemical mechanisms of action. Antimutagenicity testing was accomplished using strains and known mutagens with and without microsomal activation. Anticarcinogenic activity was assessed by topical application of 7, 12 - dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA) as initiator and 1% croton oil as promoter for the induction of skin papillomas in mice. Inhibition of p450 enzymes by TEO was studied using various resorufins and aminopyrene as substrate. Turmeric essential oil (TEO) showed significant antimutagenic activity (p<0.001) against direct acting mutagens such as sodium azide (NaN3), 4-nitro-O-phenylenediamine (NPD) and N-methyl- N-nitro N'nitrosoguanine (MNNG). TEO was found to have significant antimutagenic effect (>90%) against mutagen needing metabolic activation such as 2-acetamidoflourene (2-AAF). The study also revealed that TEO significantly inhibited (p<0.001) the mutagenicity induced by tobacco extract to Salmonella TA 102 strain. DMBA and croton oil induced papilloma development in mice was found to be delayed and prevented significantly by TEO application. Moreover TEO significantly (P<0.001) inhibited isoforms of cytochrome p450 (CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2B1/2, CYP2A, CYP2B and CYP3A) enzymes in vitro, which are involved in the activation of carcinogens. Results indicated that TEO is antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic and inhibition of enzymes (p450) involved in the activation of carcinogen is one of its mechanisms of action.