Low cancer survival rates and the serious side effects often associated with current chemotherapeutics highlight the need for new and effective nontoxic anticancer agents. Since 1997 when Jang and colleagues first described resveratrol's ability to inhibit carcinogenesis, it has consistently proven effective at tumor inhibition in diverse human cancer models. This finding has raised the hope that resveratrol would pioneer a novel class of nontoxic chemotherapeutics. As a consequence of initial basic and preclinical studies, resveratrol is now being extensively promoted in the unregulated nutraceutical sector. However, some fundamental aspects of resveratrol's action need to be understood before it can be developed into a clinically viable anticancer drug. These areas pertain to the key mechanism(s) by which resveratrol potentiates its antitumor effects. Current research suggests that these mechanisms might be through novel pathways, requiring an understanding of cellular uptake, sentinel targets, and in vivo biological networks. The metabolism of resveratrol and its bioavailability also warrant further consideration in light of recent in vitro and in vivo studies. Finally, we need to appreciate the sorts of information about resveratrol that may translate between different disease entities. We present a critical discussion of these issues and suggest important experiments that could pave the way to the successful translation of resveratrol to the clinic.