Anthricin (Deoxypodophyllotoxin), a naturally occurring flavolignan, has well known anti-cancer properties in several cancer cells, such as prostate cancer, cervical carcinoma and pancreatic cancer. However, the effects of Anthricin are currently unknown in oral cancer. We examined the anti-cancer effect and mechanism of action of Anthricin in human FaDu hypopharyngeal squamous carcinoma cells. Our data showed that Anthricin inhibits cell viability in a dose- and time-dependent manner (IC50 50 nM) in the MTT assay and Live & Dead assay. In addition, Anthricin treated FaDu cells showed marked apoptosis by DAPI stain and FACS. Furthermore, Anthricin activates anti-apoptotic factors such as caspase-3, -9 and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), suggesting that caspase-mediated pathways are involved in Anthricin-induced apoptosis. Anthricin treatment also leads to accumulation of the pro-apoptotic factor Bax, followed by inhibition of cell growth. Taken together, these results indicate that Anthricn-induced cell death of human FaDu hypopharyngeal squamous carcinoma cells is mediated by mitochondrial-dependent apoptotic pathway. In summary, our findings provide a framework for further exploration on Anthricin as a novel chemotherapeutic drug for human oral cancer.