Tannic acid inhibits the mutagenicity of several polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their bay-region diol epoxides. Our prior studies have shown that when applied topically to Senear mice, tannic acid caused substantial inhibition of epidermal PAH metabolism, subsequent PAH-DNA adduct formation, and PAH-induced skin tumorigenesis (H. Mukhtar et al., Cancer Res., 48:2361–2365,1988, and references therein). In this study the effects of tannic acid supplementation in the diet (1%, w/w, in AIN-76 diet) of Senear mice on benzo(a)pyrene (BP) metabolism and its subsequent DNA binding and tumorigenesis in lung and forestomach were evaluated. Animals receiving a tannic acid-containing diet showed diminished aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase and 7-ethoxyresorufin 0-deethylase activities in the forestomach and lung. Elevated glutathione S-transferase and NAD(P)H:quinone reductase activities were observed in these tissues. Maximum effects occurred after 45 days of feeding. Administration of |3H]BP p.o. to animals resulted in lower covalent binding to DNA in forestomach and lung of animals receiving tannic acid-containing diet as compared to animals receiving AIN-76 control diet. Tumor induction studies in forestomach and lung revealed significant protection against BP-induced tumorigenesis in animals fed tannic acid-supplemented diet as compared to animals fed control diet. The mice fed tannic acid-supplemented diet developed 33 forestomach tumors/mouse compared to 5.2 tumors/mouse in animals receiving control diet. The numbers of pulmonary tumors per mouse in animals fed tannic acid-supplemented diet and control diet were 1.6 and 3.1, respectively. Topical application of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene to animals fed tannic acid-supplemented diet did not result in significant protection against skin tumorigenesis. However, a slight delay in the onset of skin tumor formation occurred in tannic acid-fed animals when compared to animals receiving control diet. Our data suggest that dietary supplementation with tannic acid affords protection against BP-induced forestomach and lung tumorigenesis in rodents. © 1989, American Association for Cancer Research. All rights reserved.