Colorectal cancer (CRC) and lung cancer (LC) occur at high incidence, and both can be effectively prevented by dietary vegetable consumption. This makes these two types of cancer highly suitable for elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms of cancer chemoprevention. Numerous studies have shown that vegetables exert their beneficial effects through various different mechanisms, but effects on the genome level remain mostly unclear. This review evaluates current knowledge on the mechanisms of CRC and LC prevention by vegetables, thereby focusing on the modulation of gene and protein expressions. The majority of the effects found in the colon are changes in the expression of genes and proteins involved in apoptosis, cell cycle, cell proliferation and intracellular defense, in favor of reduced CRC risk. Furthermore, vegetables and vegetable components changed the expression of many more genes and proteins involved in other pathways for which biologic meaning is less clear. The number of studies investigating gene and protein expression changes in the lungs is limited to only a few in vitro and animal studies. Data from these studies show that mostly genes involved in biotransformation, apoptosis and cell cycle regulation are affected. In both colon and lungs, genomewide analyses of gene and protein expression changes by new genomics and proteomics technologies, as well as the investigation of whole vegetables, are few in number. Further studies applying these 'omics' approaches are needed to provide more insights on affected genetic/biologic pathways and, thus, in molecular mechanisms by which different chemopreventive compounds can protect against carcinogenesis. Particularly studies with combinations of phytochemicals and whole vegetables are needed to establish gene expression changes in the colon, but especially in the lungs. AD - Department of Health Risk Analysis and Toxicology, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.