© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. The polyphenolic flavone chrysin has been evaluated as a natural chemopreventive agent due to its anti-cancer effects in a variety of cancer cell lines. However, the mechanism of the chemopreventive effect has been not well established, especially in human colorectal cancer cells. We evaluated the chemopreventive effect of chrysin in three different human colorectal cancer cell lines. We found that chrysin treatment consequently reduced cell viability via induction of apoptosis. We identified that the involvement of up-regulation of pro-apoptotic cytokines tumor necrosis factor (Tnf) α and β genes and consequent activation of the TNF-mediated transcriptional pathway in chrysin-induced apoptosis. Using our generated AHR siRNA expressing colorectal cancer cells, we demonstrated that the chrysin-induced up-regulation of Tnfα and β gene expression was dependent on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which is a ligand-receptor for chrysin. Subsequently, we found that the AHR siRNA expressing colorectal cancer cells were resistant to chrysin-induced apoptosis. Therefore, we concluded that AHR is required for the chrysin-induced apoptosis and the up-regulation of Tnfα and β gene expression in human colorectal cancer cells.