Luteolin, 3',4',5,7-tetrahydroxyflavone, is a common flavonoid that exists in many types of plants including fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs. Plants rich in luteolin have been used in Chinese traditional medicine for treating various diseases such as hypertension, inflammatory disorders, and cancer. Having multiple biological effects such as anti-inflammation, anti-allergy and anticancer, luteolin functions as either an antioxidant or a pro-oxidant biochemically. The biological effects of luteolin could be functionally related to each other. For instance, the anti-inflammatory activity may be linked to its anticancer property. Luteolin's anticancer property is associated with the induction of apoptosis, and inhibition of cell proliferation, metastasis and angiogenesis. Furthermore, luteolin sensitizes cancer cells to therapeutic-induced cytotoxicity through suppressing cell survival pathways such as phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase (PI3K)/Akt, nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB), and X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), and stimulating apoptosis pathways including those that induce the tumor suppressor p53. These observations suggest that luteolin could be an anticancer agent for various cancers. Furthermore, recent epidemiological studies have attributed a cancer prevention property to luteolin. In this review, we summarize the progress of recent research on luteolin, with a particular focus on its anticancer role and molecular mechanisms underlying this property of luteolin.