Uncaria tomentosa, also known as "Uña de gato", is a Rubiaceae species widely used in South-American folk medicine for the treatment of cancer, arthritis, gastritis and epidemic diseases. Extracts of the plant have been shown to possess cytostatic and anti-inflammatory activity as well as mutagenic and antimutagenic properties. However, to date no studies have been carried out to verify the direct antitumor activity of the extracts. The present study investigates the effects of some extracts and their chromatographic fractions from the bark of U. tomentosa on the growth of a human breast cancer cell line (MCF7). Our data indicated that, in addition to the antimutagenic activity, U. tomentosa extracts and fractions exert a direct antiproliferative activity on MCF7. The bioassay-directed fractionation from barks and leaves resulted in the isolation of two active fractions, which displayed an IC50 of 10 mg/ml and 20 mg/ml, respectively and an antiproliferative effect, with about 90% of inhibition at a concentration of 100 mg/ml.