We investigated the possible mechanisms of inhibition of colorectal carcinogenesis by green tea (GT) in azoxymethane-treated (AOM) Apc(Min/+) mice. Mice received water or a 0.6% (w/v) solution of GT as the only source of beverage. GT treatment commenced at the 8th week of age and lasted for 8 wk. The treatment caused a statistically significant reduction in the number of newly formed tumors (28%, P < 0.05). Immunohistochemical analysis showed that GT decreased the levels of beta-catenin and its downstream target cyclin D1. To probe a mechanism, we further investigated the expression of retinoic X receptor alpha (RXR alpha) in AOM/Apc(Min/+) tumors. Our results show that RXR alpha is selectively downregulated in AOM/Apc(Min/+) mouse intestinal tumors. In contrast, other retinoic receptors including retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR alpha), RAR beta, RXR beta, and RXR gamma were all expressed in Apc(Min/+) adenomas. Furthermore, our results show that RXR alpha downregulation is an early event in colorectal carcinogenesis and is independent of beta-catenin expression. GT significantly increased the protein levels of RXR alpha. In addition, RT-PCR analysis showed that GT induced a similar increase in the levels of RXR alpha mRNA. Genomic bisulfite treatment of colonic DNA followed by pyrosequencing of 24 CpG sites in the promoter region of RXR alpha gene showed a significant decrease in CpG methylation with GT treatment. The results suggest that a low concentration of GT is sufficient to desilence RXR alpha and inhibit intestinal tumorigenesis in the Apc(Min/+) mouse.