Isothiocyanates (ITCs) found in cruciferous vegetables are potentially important anticarcinogenic phytochemicals for many types of cancers including breast cancer. In this study, we have shown that three isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, erucin, and iberin, are potent inducers of thioredoxin reductase 1 (TrxR1) in human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Sulforaphane, erucin, and iberin at 1 microM induce TrxR1 mRNA 2-3-fold within 8 h of treatment, and induce mRNA 5-7-fold with 12 microM ITC treatments. Selenium did not affect sulforaphane-induced TrxR1 mRNA levels, but significantly enhanced both TrxR1 protein expression (up to 9-fold in erucin treatment) and corresponding activities. These results suggest that dietary ITCs are important factors in the regulation of redox status through the induction of the selenoprotein thioredoxin reductase.