Some active alkaloids isolated from Lycoris, a bulbous perennial herb, was shown to possess various anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory activities. In this study, we evaluated the in vitro apoptotic effect of ethanol extract from Lycoris radiata (LRE) and further probed the underlying molecular mechanisms of LRE effects. The survival rate of B16F10 melanoma cells exposed to LRE was decreased in a dose-dependent manner, cell growth was retarded by arresting cell cycle at G1 phase and apoptotic appearance such as caspase-3 activation as well as DNA fragmentation was observed by LRE treatment. In addition, LRE induced p38 and c-Jun phosphorylation, followed by activation of transcription factor AP-1. Pretreatment with the p38 inhibitor (SB203580) blocked LRE-induced AP-1 transcriptional activity, and curcumin, AP-1 inhibitor, dramatically inhibited LRE-induced apoptosis in B16F10 melanoma cells. Our results collectively indicate that LRE-mediated apoptosis occurs through the activation of p38 and AP-1 pathway and potentially LRE exhibits anti-cancer activity against B16F10 melanoma cells.