Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of tumour-related deaths. In the present study, the chemopreventive effect of green tea on 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH)-induced colon carcinogenesis was studied in male Wistar rats. The DMH group received subcutaneous injections of DMH (30 mg kg−1 body weight) once a week for 30 weeks, the normal group received the vehicle of DMH, and the DMH + green tea group received DMH simultaneously with 1% green tea as their sole source of drinking fluid throughout the experimental period. In the DMH group treated with green tea, significant reductions in gene overexpressions of colonic nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), tumour necrosis factor α, inducible nitric oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase 2, and NF-κB immunostaining indicates the anti-inflammatory effect of green tea in attenuating colon cancer. Moreover, the anti-angiogenic and anti-invasiveness effects of green tea were revealed as reductions of both vascular endothelial growth factor and matrix metalloproteinase-7 mRNA expression levels. These effects were confirmed by the significant reduction of serum tumour necrosis factor α, C-reactive protein levels, inhibition of tumour incidence, and nearly normal survival rate and colonic architecture. It can be concluded that green tea exerts a potent chemopreventive effect on colon carcinogenesis possibly due to the inhibition of NF-κB. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.