Abstract Tangeretin and nobiletin are citrus flavonoids that are among the most effective at inhibiting cancer cell growth in vitro and in vivo. The antiproliferative activity of tangeretin and nobiletin was investigated in human breast cancer cell lines MDA-MB-435 and MCF-7 and human colon cancer line HT-29. Both flavonoids inhibited proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner, and blocked cell cycle progression at G1 in all three cell lines. At concentrations that resulted in significant inhibition of proliferation and cell cycle arrest, neither flavonoid induced apoptosis or cell death in any of the tumor cell lines. To test the ability of arrested cells to recover, cells that were incubated with tangeretin and nobiletin for 4 days were then cultured in flavonoid-free medium for an additional 4 days. Cells resumed proliferation similar to untreated control within a day of flavonoid removal. Cell cycle distribution was similar to that of control within 4 days of flavonoid removal. These data indicate that, in these cell lines at concentrations that inhibit proliferation up to 80% over 4 days, tangeretin and nobiletin are cytostatic and significantly suppress proliferation by cell cycle arrest without apoptosis. Such an agent could be expected to spare normal tissues from toxic side effects. Thus, tangeretin and nobiletin could be effective cytostatic anticancer agents. Inhibition of proliferation of human cancers without inducing cell death may be advantageous in treating tumors as it would restrict proliferation in a manner less likely to induce cytotoxicity and death in normal, non-tumor tissues.