The present study investigated the effect of dietary supplementation of flaxseed, the richest source of lignans, on experimental metastasis of B16BL6 murine melanoma cells in C57BL/6 mice. Mice were fed a basal diet or the basal diet supplemented with 2.5, 5 or 10% flaxseed for 2 weeks before and after the intravenous injection of 0.75 x 10(5) melanoma cells. At necropsy, the number of tumors that developed in the lungs was counted, the cross-sectional area of tumors was measured and the volumes of tumors were calculated. The median number of tumors in mice fed the 2.5, 5 and 10% flaxseed-supplemented diets was 32, 54 and 63% lower than that of the controls, respectively. The addition of flaxseed to the diet also caused a dose-dependent decrease in the tumor cross-sectional area and the tumor volume. These results provide the first experimental evidence that flaxseed reduces metastasis and inhibits the growth of the metastatic secondary tumors in animals. It is concluded that flaxseed may be a useful nutritional adjuvant to prevent metastasis in cancer patients.