Epigenetic silencing of gluthathione-S-transferase pi (GSTP1) is recognized as being a molecular hallmark of human prostate cancer. We investigated the effects of green tea polyphenols (GTPs) on GSTP1 re-expression and further elucidated its mechanism of action and long-term safety, compared with nucleoside-analog inhibitor of DNA methyltransferase (DNMT), 5-aza-2'-deoxycitidine. Exposure of human prostate cancer LNCaP cells to 1-10 microg/ml of GTP for 1-7 days caused a concentration- and time-dependent re-expression of GSTP1, which correlated with DNMT1 inhibition. Methyl-specific-PCR and sequencing revealed extensive demethylation in the proximal GSTP1 promoter and regions distal to the transcription factor binding sites. GTP exposure in a time-dependent fashion diminished the mRNA and protein levels of MBD1, MBD4 and MeCP2; HDAC 1-3 and increased the levels of acetylated histone H3 (LysH9/18) and H4. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that cells treated with GTP have reduced MBD2 association with accessible Sp1 binding sites leading to increased binding and transcriptional activation of the GSTP1 gene. Exposure of cells to GTP did not result in global hypomethylation, as demonstrated by methyl-specific PCR for LINE-1 promoter; rather GTP promotes maintenance of genomic integrity. Furthermore, exposure of cells to GTP did not cause activation of the prometaststic gene S100P, a reverse response noted after exposure of cells to 5-aza-2'deoxycitidine. Our results, for the first time, demonstrate that GTP has dual potential to alter DNA methylation and chromatin modeling, the 2 global epigenetic mechanisms of gene regulation and their lack of toxicity makes them excellent candidates for the chemoprevention of prostate cancer.