Esculetin has been shown to selectively induce tumor apoptosis in several types of cancers and is regarded as a promising chemotherapeutic agent. In this study, we showed that esculetin significantly suppressed the growth of oral cancer SAS cells in a dose-dependent manner. DNA content flow cytometry and TUNEL assay revealed that esculetin induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. Western blotting showed esculetin increased DR5 protein expression and activated caspase-8, which differed from previous studies conducted in other cell types. Furthermore, treatment with esculetin significantly increased TRAIL-induced apoptosis in SAS cells and the TRAIL-sensitizing effect was blocked by DR5/Fc chimera protein. Our results indicate that esculetin enhances TRAIL-induced apoptosis primarily through upregulation of DR5. Combination of esculetin and TRAIL may be a novel treatment strategy for oral cancers.