The COX inhibitors (NSAID/Coxibs) are a major focus for the chemoprevention of cancer. The COX-2-specific inhibitors have progressed to clinical trials and have shown preventive efficacy in colon and skin cancers. However, they have significant adverse cardiovascular effects. Certain NSAIDs (e.g., naproxen) have a good cardiac profile, but can cause gastric toxicity. The present study examined protocols to reduce this toxicity of naproxen. Female Fischer-344 rats were treated weekly with the urinary bladder-specific carcinogen hydroxybutyl(butyl)nitrosamine (OH-BBN) for 8 weeks. Rats were dosed daily with NPX (40 mg/kg body weight/day, gavage) or with the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole (4.0 mg/kg body weight/day) either singly or in combination beginning 2 weeks after the final OH-BBN. OHBBN-treated rats, 96% developed urinary bladder cancers. While omeprazole alone was ineffective (97% cancers), naproxen alone or combined with omeprazole-prevented cancers, yielding 27 and 35% cancers, respectively. In a separate study, OH-BBN-treated rats were administered naproxen: (A) daily, (B) 1 week daily naproxen/1week vehicle, (C) 3 weeks daily naproxen/3 week vehicle, or (D) daily vehicle beginning 2 weeks after last OH-BBN treatment. In the intermittent dosing study, protocol A, B, C, and Dresulted in palpable cancers in 27%, 22%, 19%, and 96% of rats (P < 0.01). Short-term naproxen treatment increased apoptosis, but did not alter proliferation in the urinary bladder cancers. Two different protocols that should decrease the gastric toxicity of NSAIDs in humans did not alter chemopreventive efficacy. This should encourage the use of NSAIDs (e.g., naproxen) in clinical prevention trials.