Flavonoids possess strong anti-oxidant and cancer chemopreventive activities. Chrysin (5,7-dihydroxyflavone) occurs naturally in many plants, honey, and propolis. In vitro, chrysin acts as a general anti-oxidant, causes cell cycle arrest and promotes cell death. However, the mechanism by which chrysin inhibits cancer cell growth and the subcellular pathways activated remains poorly understood. Effect of dietary supplementation with chrysin on proliferation and apoptosis during diethylnitrosamine (DEN)-induced early hepatocarcinogenesis was investigated in male Wistar rats. To induce hepatocarcinogenesis, rats were given DEN injections (i.p., 200 mg/kg) three times at a 15 day interval. An oral dose of chrysin (250 mg/kg bodyweight) was given three times weekly for 3 weeks, commencing 1 week after the last dose of DEN. Changes in the mRNA expression of COX-2, NFkB p65, p53, Bcl-xL and beta-arrestin-2 were assessed by quantitative real-time PCR. Changes in the protein levels were measured by western blotting. Chrysin administration significantly (P<0.001) reduced the number and size of nodules formed. Also, a significant (P<0.01) reduction in serum activities of AST, ALT, ALP, LDH and gammaGT was noticed. Expression of COX-2 and NFkB p65 was significantly reduced whereas that of p53, Bax and caspase 3 increased at the mRNA and protein levels. Likewise, a decrease in levels of beta-arrestin and the anti-apoptotic marker Bcl-xL was also noted. These findings suggest that chrysin exerts global hepato-protective effect and its chemopreventive activity is associated with p53-mediated apoptosis during early hepatocarcinogenesis.