The modifying effect of dietary exposure to protocatechuic acid (PCA) on the development of azoxymethane (AOM)-induced colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) was investigated in male F344 rats. The effects of PCA feeding on the silver-stained nucleolar organizer regions protein (AgNORs) count in the colonic epithelial cells and on the ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity in the colonic mucosa were also estimated. Animals were given weekly s.c. injections of AOM (15 mg/kg body weight) for 3 weeks to induce ACF. These rats were fed diet containing 1000 or 2000 ppm PCA for 5 weeks, starting one week before the first dosing of AOM. All rats were killed 2 weeks after the last AOM injection, to measure the number of ACF, ODC activity, and AgNORs count per nucleus in the colon. In rats given AOM and PCA, the frequency of ACF/colon was significantly decreased compared with that in rats given AOM alone (P < 0.005 at 1000 and P < 0.05 at 2000 ppm). ODC activity in the colon of rats given AOM and PCA at both doses was also significantly lower than that of rats treated with AOM alone (P < 0.05). Similarly, the mean AgNORs count in rats fed PCA was significantly smaller than that of rats treated with AOM alone (P < 0.0001). Treatment with PCA alone did not affect these three biomarkers. These results provide further evidence that PCA could be a chemopreventive agent against rat colon carcinogenesis.