NF-κB (nuclear factor κB) plays a significant role in inflammation, immunity, cell proliferation, apoptosis and malignancy. ROS (reactive oxygen species) are among the most important regulating factors of NF-κB. Intracellular ROS are mainly regulated by an endogenous antioxidant defence system. Any disruption of redox balance leads to oxidative stress, which causes a number of pathological conditions including inflammation and malignancy. Increased metabolic activity in cancerous cells leads to oxidative stress, which is further enhanced due to depletion of the endogenous antioxidant defence system. However, the activation and signalling of NF-κB are reported to be inhibited by overexpression and induced activity of antioxidant enzymes. Therefore the present study focuses on the correlation between the endogenous antioxidant defence system, ROS and NF-κB activation during lymphoma growth in mice. The study highlights the anti-carcinogenic role of curcumin by modulation of NF-κB activation and oxidative stress via the endogenous antioxidant defence system. Oxidative stress was monitored by lipid peroxidation, protein carbonylation and antioxidant enzyme activity. NF-κB-mediated signalling was tested by DNA-binding activity. The results reflect that intracellular production of H 2 O 2 in oxidative tumour micro-environment regulates NF-κB activation. Curcumin inhibits oxidative state in the liver of lymphoma-bearing mice by enhancing the transcription and activities of antioxidant enzymes, which in turn modulate activation of NF-κB, leading to a decrease in lymphoma growth. Morphological changes as well as cell proliferation and cell survival assays confirmed reduced lymphoma growth. Thus curcumin contributes to cancer prevention by disrupting the vicious cycle of constant ROS production, responsible for a high oxidative micro-environment for tumour growth.