There is persuasive epidemiological and experimental evidence that dietary polyphenols have anti-inflammatory activity. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have long been used to combat inflammation. Recently, cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors have been developed and recommended for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). However, two COX inhibitors have been withdrawn from the market due to unexpected side effects. Because conventional therapeutic and surgical approaches have not been able to fully control the incidence and outcome of many inflammatory diseases, there is an urgent need to find safer compounds and to develop mechanism-based approaches for the management of these diseases. Polyphenols are found in many dietary plant products, including fruits, vegetables, beverages, herbs, and spices. Several of these compounds have been found to inhibit the inflammation process as well as tumorigenesis in experimental animals; they can also exhibit potent biological properties. In addition, epidemiological studies have indicated that populations who consume foods rich in specific polyphenols have lower incidences of inflammatory disease. This paper provides an overview of the research approaches that can be used to unravel the biology and health effects of polyphenols. Polyphenols have diverse biological effects, however, this review will focus on some of the pivotal molecular targets that directly affect the inflammation process.