Fisetin (3,7,3',4'-tetrahydroxyflavone) exhibits anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effects through a mechanism that is poorly understood. Although fisetin has been cocrystalized with cyclin-dependent kinase 6 and inhibits its activity, this inhibition is not sufficient to explain various activities assigned to this flavonol. Because of the critical role of the NF-kappaB pathway in regulation of inflammation and proliferation of tumor cells, we postulated that fisetin modulates this pathway. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effect of fisetin on NF-kappaB and NF-kappaB-regulated gene products in vitro. We found that among nine different flavones tested, fisetin was potent in suppressing tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced NF-kappaB activation. Fisetin also suppressed the NF-kappaB activation induced by various inflammatory agents and carcinogens, and it blocked the phosphorylation and degradation of IkappaBalpha by inhibiting IkappaBalpha (IKK) activation, which in turn led to suppression of the phosphorylation and nuclear translocation of p65. NF-kappaB-dependent reporter gene expression was also suppressed by fisetin, as was NF-kappaB reporter activity induced by TNFR1, TRADD, TRAF2, NIK, and IKK but not that induced by p65 transfection. Fisetin also inhibited TNF-induced TAK1 and receptor-interacting protein activation, events that lie upstream of IKK activation. The expression of NF-kappaB-regulated gene products involved in antiapoptosis (cIAP-1/2, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, XIAP, Survivin, and TRAF1), proliferation (cyclin D1, c-Myc, COX-2), invasion (ICAM-1 and MMP-9), and angiogenesis (vascular endothelial growth factor) were also down-regulated by fisetin. This correlated with potentiation of apoptosis induced by TNF, doxorubicin, and cisplatin. Thus, overall, our results indicate that fisetin mediates antitumor and anti-inflammatory effects through modulation of NF-kappaB pathways.