Geraniol (GOH), a naturally occurring monoterpene, has been shown to have antiproliferative, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis-inducing effects, and represents a promising cancer chemopreventive agent. In the present study, we investigated the chemopreventive potential of GOH (50 and 100 mg kg−1 body weight) against 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene (DMBA)/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol 13-acetate (TPA)-mediated skin tumorigenesis in Swiss albino mice. The topical treatment of GOH, 30 min prior to TPA (2 µg per 200 µl of acetone) treatment significantly inhibited TPA-induced skin edema, hyperplasia, COX-2 induction and oxidative stress response. The GOH treatment also resulted in reduction of TPA-induced ornithine decarboxylase activity and [3H] thymidine incorporation by 53% (P < 0.001) and 41% (P < 0.001), respectively. We found that GOH treatment significantly inhibited the tumor incidence and number of tumors (P < 0.001) and extended the latency period from 4 weeks in DMBA/TPA treatment group to 10 weeks in GOH-pretreated mice. Furthermore, we observed that GOH treatment significantly suppressed the Ras/Raf/ERK1/2 signaling pathway in skin tumor. Consistently, GOH-treated skin tumors showed reduced expression of Bcl-2 and increased expression of Bax in these lesions. Thus, it was concluded that GOH inhibits DMBA/TPA-mediated skin tumorigenesis by attenuating the Ras proliferation pathway and inducing pro-apoptotic state via inhibition of oxidative stress response and inflammation. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.