The effects of the constituents isolated from ginger species including curcumin, 6-gingerol and labdane-type diterpene compounds on cell proliferation and the induction of apoptosis in the cultured human T lymphoma Jurkat cells were studied. Among the tested compounds, galanals A and B, isolated from the flower buds of a Japanese ginger, myoga (Zingiber mioga Roscoe), showed the most potent cytotoxic effect. Exposure of Jurkat human T-cell leukemia cells to galanals resulted in the induction of apoptotic cell death characterized by DNA fragmentation and caspase-3 activation. The mitochondrial damage pathway was suggested to be involved in galanal-induced apoptosis because the treatment of cells with galanals induced mitochondrial transmembrane potential (DeltaPsim) alteration and cytochrome c release. The anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein was downregulated by the galanal treatment together with enhancement of the Bax expression. In conclusion, the results from this study provide biological evidence that ginger-specific constituents other than curcuminoids are potential anticancer agents.