Methanolic extracts from seven Plantago species used in traditional medicine for the treatment of cancer, were evaluated for cytotoxic activity against three human cancer cell lines recommended by the National Cancer Institute (NCI, USA). The results showed that Plantago species exhibited cytotoxic activity, showing a certain degree of selectivity against the tested cells in culture. Since the flavonoids are able to strongly inhibit the proliferation of human cancer cell lines, we have identified luteolin-7-O-beta-glucoside as major flavonoid present in most of the Plantago species. Also, we have evaluated this compound and its aglycon, luteolin, for their cytotoxic and DNA topoisomerase I poisons activities. These results could justify the traditional use of the Plantago species and topoisomerase-mediated DNA damage might be a possible mechanism by which flavonoids of Plantago exert their cytotoxicity potential.