Clinical and preclinical studies provide strong evidence that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can prevent numerous types of cancers, especially colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, the depletion of physiologically important prostaglandins due to cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibition results in potentially fatal toxicities that preclude the long-term use of NSAIDs for cancer chemoprevention. While studies have shown an involvement of COX-2 in colorectal tumorigenesis, other studies suggest that a COX-independent target may be at least partially responsible for the antineoplastic activity of NSAIDs. For example, certain NSAID derivatives have been identified that do not inhibit COX-2 but have demonstrated efficacy to suppress carcinogenesis with potential for reduced toxicity. A number of alternative targets have also been reported to account for the tumor cell growth inhibitory activity of NSAIDs, including the inhibition of cyclic guanosine monophosphate phosphodiesterases (cGMP PDEs), generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), the suppression of the apoptosis inhibitor protein, survivin, and others. Here, we review several promising mechanisms that are being targeted to develop safer and more efficacious NSAID derivatives for colon cancer chemoprevention. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.