This report is designed to explore the roles of caspase-8, -9 and -3 in artemisinin (ARTE)-induced apoptosis in non-small cell lung cancer cells (A549 cells). ARTE induced reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated apoptosis in dose- and time-dependent fashion. Although ARTE treatment did not induce Bid cleavage and significant loss of mitochondrial membrane potential, it induced release of Smac and AIF but not cytochrome c from mitochondria, and silencing of Bak but not Bax significantly prevented ARTE-induced cytotoxicity. Moreover, ARTE treatment induced ROS-dependent activation of caspase-9, -8 and -3. Of the utmost importance, silencing or inhibiting any one of caspase-8, -9 and -3 almost completely prevented ARTE-induced activation of all the three caspases and remarkably abrogated the cytotoxicity of ARTE, suggesting that ARTE triggered an amplification activation loop among caspase-9, -8 and -3. Collectively, our data demonstrate that ARTE induces a ROS-mediated amplification activation loop among caspase-9, -8 and -3 to dominantly mediate the apoptosis of A549 cells.