Formation of neuronal intranuclear inclusions of the disease proteins that are ubiquitinated and often associated with various proteasome components is the major hallmark of the polyglutamine diseases. Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound having anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, and anti-oxidative properties. Recently, curcumin has been reported to suppress the amyloid-β accumulation, oxidative damage, and inflammation in the transgenic mice model of Alzheimer's disease. Here, we found that the treatment of curcumin increases the polyglutamine-expanded truncated N-terminal huntingtin (mutant huntingtin) aggregation and mutant huntingtin-dependent cell death. Curcumin also causes rapid proteasomal malfunction in the mutant huntingtin expressing cells in comparison with normal glutamine repeat expressing cells. Finally, we show that N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a potent antioxidant, reverted the curcumin-induced mutant huntingtin aggregation and proteasomal malfunction in the mutant huntingtin expressing cells. NAC also protects curcumin-induced cell death. Our result suggests that curcumin promotes mutant huntingtin-induced cell death by mimicking proteasomal dysfunction. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.