Prevention of cancer through dietary intervention recently has received an increasing interest, and dietary polyphenols have become not only important potential chemopreventive, but also therapeutic, natural agents. Polyphenols have been reported to interfere at the initiation, promotion and progression of cancer. They might lead to the modulation of proteins in diverse pathways and require the integration of different signals for the final chemopreventive or therapeutic effect. Polyphenols have been demonstrated to act on multiple key elements in signal transduction pathways related to cellular proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, inflammation, angiogenesis and metastasis; however, these molecular mechanisms of action are not completely characterized and many features remain to be elucidated. The aim of this review is to provide insights into the molecular basis of potential chemopreventive and therapeutic activities of dietary polyphenols with emphasis in their ability to control intracellular signalling cascades considered as relevant targets in a cancer preventive approach.