The aim of this study was to investigate the chemopreventive effects of widely consumed cruciferous vegetables, namely Brussels sprouts and red cabbage towards 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ)-induced preneoplastic lesions [liver glutathione-S-transferase placental positive (GST-P+) foci and colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF)]. Male F344 rats were treated with IQ (100 mg/kg bw/g) on 10 alternating days and received drinking water supplemented with Brussels sprouts and red cabbage juices (5% v/v) before and during the carcinogen treatment. From each vegetable two different cultivars were tested. Brussels sprouts reduced the frequency of IQ-induced aberrant foci in both organs (41-52% in the colon and 27-67% in the liver). Also, Brussels sprouts drastically diminished (85-91%) the size of liver GST-P+ foci, but no such effect was seen in the colon. With red cabbage, the size of liver GST-P+ foci was markedly reduced (41-83%) whereas the foci frequency was only moderately decreased (19-50%). No protection was seen in the colon after treatment with red cabbage. Cooking (10 min, 100°C) of the vegetables had no influence on their protective effects. The stronger chemoprotective effects of Brussels sprouts may be due to the fact that the overall glucosinolate contents were substantially (2-3-fold) higher than those of the cabbage cultivars, but it was not possible to attribute the reduction of preneoplastic lesions to specific glucosinolates. The activities of hepatic UDP-glucuronosyltransferase form 2 (UDPGT-2) and cytochrome P4501A2 were increased by both vegetables. The induction effect of Brussels sprouts on the activity of UDPGT-2 was more marked than that of the red cabbage cultivars, suggesting that increased glucuronidation of IQ may account for the reduction of the preneoplastic lesions. Our findings support the assumption that Brassica vegetables protect against the carcinogenic effects of heterocyclic amines.