Unlike the tocopherols, the tocotrienols, also members of the vitamin E family, have an unsaturated isoprenoid side chain. In contrast to extensive studies on tocopherol, very little is known about tocotrienol. Because the nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) pathway has a central role in tumorigenesis, we investigated the effect of gamma-tocotrienol on the NF-kappaB pathway. Although gamma-tocotrienol completely abolished tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF)-induced NF-kappaB activation, a similar dose of gamma-tocopherol had no effect. Besides TNF, gamma-tocotrienol also abolished NF-kappaB activation induced by phorbol myristate acetate, okadaic acid, lipopolysaccharide, cigarette smoke, interleukin-1beta, and epidermal growth factor. Constitutive NF-kappaB activation expressed by certain tumor cells was also abrogated by gamma-tocotrienol. Reducing agent had no effect on the gamma-tocotrienol-induced down-regulation of NF-kappaB. Mevalonate reversed the NF-kappaB inhibitory effect of gamma-tocotrienol, indicating the role of hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA reductase. Gamma-tocotrienol blocked TNF-induced phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha through the inhibition of IkappaBalpha kinase activation, thus leading to the suppression of the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65. gamma-Tocotrienol also suppressed NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene transcription induced by TNF, TNFR1, TRADD, TRAF2, TAK1, receptor-interacting protein, NIK, and IkappaBalpha kinase but not that activated by p65. Additionally, the expressions of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products associated with antiapoptosis (IAP1, IAP2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-2, cFLIP, XIAP, Bfl-1/A1, TRAF1, and Survivin), proliferation (cyclin D1, COX2, and c-Myc), invasion (MMP-9 and ICAM-1), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor) were down-regulated by gamma-tocotrienol. This correlated with potentiation of apoptosis induced by TNF, paclitaxel, and doxorubicin. Overall, our results demonstrate that gamma-tocotrienol inhibited the NF-kappaB activation pathway, leading to down-regulation of various gene products and potentiation of apoptosis.