Chalcones (l,3-diphenyl-2-propenone) are cancer preventive food components found in a human diet rich in fruits and vegetables. In this study, we first report the chemopreventive effect of chalcone in two human bladder cancer cell lines: T24 and HT-1376. The results show that chalcone inhibits the proliferation of T24 and HT-1376 cells by inducing apoptosis and blocking cell cycle progression in the G2/M phase. Western blot assay showed that chalcone significantly increases the expression of p21 and p27 proteins, and decreases the levels of cyclin Bl, cyclin A and Cdc2, thereby contributing to cell cycle arrest. In addition, chalcone increased the expression of Bax and Bak, but decreased the levels of Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL and subsequently triggered mitochondrial apoptotic pathway (release of cytochrome c and activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3). Our study suggests that the induction of mitochondrial pathway and inhibition of the nuclear factor kappa B survival system may play important roles in the antiproliferative activity of chalcone in T24 and HT-1376 cells.