Hyper-O-GlcNAcylation is a general feature of cancer which contributes to various cancer phenotypes, including cell proliferation and cell growth. Quercetin, a naturally occurring dietary flavonoid, has been reported to reduce the proliferation and growth of cancer. Several reports of the anticancer effect of quercetin have been published, but there is no study regarding its effect on O-GlcNAcylation. The aim of this study was to investigate the anticancer effect of quercetin on HeLa cells and compare this with its effect on HaCaT cells. Cell viability and cell death were determined by MTT and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labelling assays. O-GlcNAcylation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) was examined by succinylated wheat germ agglutinin pulldown and immunoprecipitation. Immunofluorescence staining was used to detect the immunoreactivitiy of O-linked N-acetylglucosamine transferase (OGT) and sterol regulatory element binding protein 1 (SREBP-1). Quercetin decreased cell proliferation and induced cell death, but its effect on HaCaT cells was lower than that on HeLa cells. O-GlcNAcylation level was higher in HeLa cells than in HaCaT cells. Quercetin decreased the expression of global O-GlcNAcylation and increased AMPK activation by reducing the O-GlcNAcylation of AMPK. AMPK activation due to reduced O-GlcNAcylation of AMPK was confirmed by treatment with 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine. Our results also demonstrated that quercetin regulated SREBP-1 and its transcriptional targets. Furthermore, immunofluorescence staining showed that quercetin treatment decreased the immunoreactivities of OGT and SREBP-1 in HeLa cells. Our findings demonstrate that quercetin exhibited its anticancer effect by decreasing the O-GlcNAcylation of AMPK. Further studies are needed to explore how quercetin regulates O-GlcNAcylation in cancer.