OBJECTIVE To observe the effect of curcumin combined folinic acid fluorouracil oxaliplatin (FOLFOX) on the gastric adenocarcinoma cell line BGC-823 and to explore its possible mechanisms. METHODS Cells were divided into five groups, i.e. the blank control group, the curcumin group, the FOLFOX group (0.1 mmol/L 5-FU +5 micromol/L oxaliplatin), and the curcumin combined FOLFOX group. CCK-8 was used to detect cell activity. The cell apoptosis was observed using Hoechst dyeing. Caspase-3 test kit was applied to test Caspase-3 vitality. The mRNA expressions of Bcl-2 and Bax were detected by real time fluorescent quantitative PCR. The expressions of Bcl-2 and Bax protein were determined by Western blot. RESULTS The BGC-823 cells' proliferation could be inhibited, apoptosis induced, the Caspase-3 activity increased, expressions of Bcl-2 mRNA and Bcl-2 protein lowered, while Bax mRNA and Bax protein expressions increased in each medicated group. Besides, the efficacy of the curcumin combined FOLFOX group was superior to that of the curcumin group and the FOLFOX group, showing statistical difference (P < 0.01). CONCLUSION Curcumin combined FOLFOX could significantly inhibit the proliferation of BGC-823 cells possibly via promoting Bax expression and Caspase-3 activity, inhibiting Bcl-2 expression, thus inducing apoptosis.