Resveratrol (RSV) is a natural polyphenol that is known as a powerful chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic anticancer molecule. This study focused on the effects of RSV on the activities and expression levels of antioxidant enzymes in the cancer cells. Prostate cancer PC-3 cells, hepatic cancer HepG2 cells, breast cancer MCF-7 cells and the non-cancerous HEK293T kidney epithelial cells were treated with a wide range of RSV concentrations (10-100 μM) for 24-72 h. Cell growth was estimated by trypan blue staining, activities of the antioxidant enzymes were measured spectrophotometrically, expression levels of the antioxidant enzymes were quantified by digitalizing the protein band intensities on Western blots, and the percentage of apoptotic cells was determined by flow cytometry. Treatment with a low concentration of RSV (25 μM) significantly increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity in PC-3, HepG2 and MCF-7 cells, but not in HEK293T cells. Catalase (CAT) activity was increased in HepG2 cells, but no effect was found on glutathione peroxidase (GPX) upon RSV treatment. RSV-induced SOD2 expression was observed in cancer cells, although the expression of SOD1, CAT and GPX1 was unaffected. Apoptosis increased upon RSV treatment of cancer cells, especially in PC-3 and HepG2 cells. Together, our data demonstrated that RSV inhibits cancer cell growth with minimal effects on non-cancerous cells. We postulate that the disproportional up-regulation of SOD, CAT and GPX expression and enzymatic activity in cancer cells results in the mitochondrial accumulation of H2O2, which in turn induces cancer cell apoptosis.