Curcumin is a yellow pigment found in turmeric (Curcuma Longa L.), and is reported, in recent studies, to have several pharmacological effects, including anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and lipid-lowering properties. However, as most curcumin is conjugated when absorbed through the intestine, free curcumin is present at extremely low levels inside the body. Therefore, curcumin metabolites have been presumed to be responsible for the curcumin bioactivity. In this study, we first confirmed that curcumin glucuronide is the major metabolite of curcumin found in the plasma after oral administration of curcumin in rats. Next, we synthesised curcumin glucuronide and compared the effects of curcumin and curcumin glucuronide on gene expression in a human hepatoma cell line (HepG2). We found that the effects of curcumin glucuronide are weaker than those of curcumin and that this difference is related to relative absorption rates of curcumin and curcumin glucuronide into HepG2 cells.