In the present study, eight organosulfur compounds from garlic and onions were studied for their inhibitory effects on benzo[a]pyrene (BP)-induced neoplasia of forestomach and lung of female A/J mice when administered 96 and 48 h prior to carcinogen challenge. These compounds had one, two or three linearly connected sulfur atoms. They included the four allyl group-containing derivatives: allyl methyl trisulfide (AMT), allyl methyl disulfide (AMD), diallyl trisulfide (DAT), and diallyl sulfide (DAS), and also four corresponding saturated compounds in which propyl groups were substituted for the allyl groups. All four allylic compounds inhibited BP-induced neoplasia of the forestomach. The saturated analogs were almost without inhibitory activity, indicating the importance of the allyl groups. DAT, which contains two allyl groups, was more potent than AMT, which contains only one allyl group, thus providing further evidence for the role of allyl groups in the inhibitory effects observed. DAS and AMD, but not DAT or AMT, inhibited pulmonary adenoma formation. The fact that in the lung the monosulfide and disulfide inhibited, but the trisulfide did not inhibit, indicates that the number of sulfur atoms in the molecule can control the organ sites at which protection against carcinogenesis will occur. All four allylic compounds induced increased glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity in the forestomach, but varied in their capacity to induce GST in lung, liver and small bowel. Their saturated analogs produced little or no induction. In evaluating relationships between diet and cancer, it would be useful to consider the possible role of garlic and onion organosulfur compounds as protective agents. In addition, further studies of this class of chemicals might lead to the identification and development of useful new chemopreventive compounds.