Several naturally occurring and synthetic food components reduce gastrointestinal cancer. Many of these compounds are scavengers of free radicals, formed during oxidative stress. Glutathione peroxidases (GPxs) protect against free radicals by catalysing their inactivation, thereby consuming glutathione (GSH). This might be one of the mechanisms leading to cancer prevention. We studied the effect of several dietary anticarcinogens on gastrointestinal GPx enzyme activities in male Wistar rats. Total as well as selenium-dependent and non-selenium-dependent GPx (t-GPx, Se-GPx and nSe-GPx) enzyme activities were determined in cytosolic fractions of oesophagus, gastric and colonic mucosa and liver. d-Limonene induced all three types of GPx activities in the oesophagus. d-Limonene and PEITC induced colonic t-GPX and nSe-GPx activity. beta-Carotene induced all three colonic GPx activities and hepatic t-GPx and Se-GPx activity. Coumarin and alpha-tocopherol induced gastric t-GPx and colonic nSe-GPx activity. Oltipraz enhanced oesophageal and gastric t-GPx and oesophageal, gastric and colonic Se-GPx. All other anticarcinogens induced one type of GPx activity at one site. In conclusion, the specific enhancement of GPx enzyme activities by dietary anticarcinogens might lead to a more efficient reduction of organic hydroperoxides and hydrogen peroxide and thus add to prevention of carcinogenesis in these organs.