2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) is one of the most prevalent carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in the environment, targeting the colon, prostate, pancreas, and mammary gland in rodents. Chemopreventive effects of synthetic and naturally occurring compounds on PhIP-induced rat mammary carcinogenesis were investigated in a series of experiments. In a PhIP feeding model, groups of 20–21 female F344 rats each, were treated with 0.02% PhIP alone or PhIP plus 0.5% 1-O-hexyl-2,3,5-trimethylhydroquinone (HTHQ), 1% green tea catechins, 1% α-tocopherol, 0.1% ellagic acid, or 1% chlorophyllin, each in the diet, or 0.1% caffeine in drinking water for 52 weeks. To assess the mechanism of HTHQ and caffeine inhibition of PhIP-induced carcinogenesis, effects of these compound on the in vitro metabolic activation of PhIP were examined in the presence of S9 mix. In the next series of experiments, the PhIP intragastric dose model was applied to allow separate investigation of the effects of chemicals during the initiation and postinitiation periods. In these experiments, female Sprague–Dawley rats were given eight intragastric doses of 100 mg/kg body weight during the first 4–8 weeks for initiation. Either during initiation or after initiation, or only after initiation, animals were treated with either corn or perilla oil at doses of 5 and 20%, conjugated fatty acid derived from safflower oil (CFA-S) or perilla oil (CFA-P) at a dose of 1%, arctiin at doses of 0.02 and 0.2% in the diet, or sodium nitrite (NaNO2) at a dose of 0.2% in drinking water. In the PhIP feeding model, administration of PhIP alone for 52 weeks induced adenocarcinomas in 40% of rats, but the incidence was remarkably reduced to 5% by the simultaneous treatment with 0.5% HTHQ, a strong lipophilic phenolic antioxidant, or to 10% by 0.1% caffeine. Administration of 1% chlorophyllin exerted similar, albeit weaker, effects. α-Tocopherol at a dose of 0.5% only reduced the multiplicity of carcinomas, and 1% green tea catechins only the mean size of mammary tumors. In a metabolic activation study of PhIP, HTHQ and caffeine clearly inhibited the formation of metabolites. In the PhIP gastric dose model, among the naturally occurring compounds examined, a plant lignan arctiin, perilla oil, which contains a large amount of n-6 α-linolenic acid, and CFA-S or CFA-P inhibited mammary tumor development, particularly in the postinitiation period, although a clear dose response was not observed. Treatment with 0.2% NaNO2 in the initiation period was found to lower the volume of mammary tumors. The present results indicate that a number of compounds may be candidate chemopreventive agents against PhIP-induced mammary carcinogenesis, acting through different mechanisms and depending on the stage of carcinogenesis. Environ. Mol. Mutagen. 39:271–278, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.