The modulating effects of dietary feeding of two flavonoids, diosmin and hesperidin, both alone and in combination, during the initiation and post-initiation phases on colon carcinogenesis initiated with azoxymethane (AOM), were investigated in male F344 rats. Animals were initiated with AOM by weekly s.c. injections of 15 mg/kg body wt for 3 weeks to induced colon neoplasms. Rats were fed the diets containing diosmin (1000 ppm), hesperidin (1000 ppm) or diosmin (900 ppm) + hesperidin (100 ppm) for 5 weeks (initiation treatment) or 28 weeks (post-initiation treatment). The others contained the groups of rats treated with diosmin, hesperidin alone or in combination, and untreated. At the end of the study (32 weeks), the incidence and multiplicity of neoplasms (adenoma and adenocarcinoma) in the large intestine of rats initiated with AOM together with, or followed by, a diet containing diosmin or hesperidin were significantly smaller than those of rats given AOM alone (P <0.001). The combination regimen during the initiation and post-initiation stages also inhibited the development of colonic neoplasms, but the tumor data did not indicate any beneficial effect of diosmin and hesperidin administered together as compared with when these agents were given individually. In addition, feeding of diosmin and hesperidin, both alone and in combination, significantly inhibited the development of aberrant crypt foci. As for cell proliferation biomarkers, dietary exposure of diosmin and hesperidin significantly decreased the 5'-bromodeoxyuridine-labeling index and argyrophilic nuclear organizer region's number in crypt cells, colonic mucosal ornithine decarboxylase activity, and polyamine levels in the blood. These results indicate that diosmin and hesperidin, both alone and in combination, act as a chemopreventive agent against colon carcinogenesis, and such effects may be partly due to suppression of cell proliferation in the colonic crypts, although precise mechanisms should be clarified.