The slow-releasing hydrogen sulfide (H₂S) donor, GYY4137, caused concentration-dependent killing of seven different human cancer cell lines (HeLa, HCT-116, Hep G2, HL-60, MCF-7, MV4-11 and U2OS) but did not affect survival of normal human lung fibroblasts (IMR90, WI-38) as determined by trypan blue exclusion. Sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) was less potent and not active in all cell lines. A structural analogue of GYY4137 (ZYJ1122) lacking sulfur and thence not able to release H₂S was inactive. Similar results were obtained using a clonogenic assay. Incubation of GYY4137 (400 µM) in culture medium led to the generation of low (<20 µM) concentrations of H₂S sustained over 7 days. In contrast, incubation of NaHS (400 µM) in the same way led to much higher (up to 400 µM) concentrations of H₂S which persisted for only 1 hour. Mechanistic studies revealed that GYY4137 (400 µM) incubated for 5 days with MCF-7 but not IMR90 cells caused the generation of cleaved PARP and cleaved caspase 9, indicative of a pro-apoptotic effect. GYY4137 (but not ZYJ1122) also caused partial G₂/M arrest of these cells. Mice xenograft studies using HL-60 and MV4-11 cells showed that GYY4137 (100-300 mg/kg/day for 14 days) significantly reduced tumor growth. We conclude that GYY4137 exhibits anti-cancer activity by releasing H₂S over a period of days. We also propose that a combination of apoptosis and cell cycle arrest contributes to this effect and that H₂S donors should be investigated further as potential anti-cancer agents.