Chemotherapeutic agent is characterized by its concentration in tumor cells with minimum side effects. Oleandrin, a polyphenolic cardiac glycoside is known to induce apoptosis in tumor cells. However, no report is available on its efficacy in primary cells. In this report we are providing the evidence that oleandrin induces apoptosis, not necrosis in tumor cells but not in primary cells like peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and neutrophils. Oleandrin inhibited NF-kappaB activation in tumor cells but not in primary cells. It induced cell death in NF-kappaB-overexpressed tumor cells. Oleandrin induced Fas expression thereby inducing apoptosis in tumor cells but not in primary cells. Dominant negative FADD inhibited oleandrin-induced cell death in tumor cells. Overall, these results suggest that oleandrin mediates apoptosis in tumor cells by inducing Fas but not in primary cells indicating its potential anti-cancer property with no or slight side effect.