Resveratrol (3, 5, 4'-trihydroxystilbene) is a phytoalexin contained in a variety of plants, such as grapes, berries and especially in the dried roots of Polygonum cuspidatum Sieb. et Zucc. It has been shown to exhibit anti-oxidative and anti-inflammation activity, and to reverse the effects of aging. Its ability to suppress cell proliferation, induce apoptosis and suppress the metastasis and invasion in a number of cell lines has prompted a large interest from people for its use as an anti-tumor component. In this review, evidence of resveratrol's anti-tumor effects and molecular mechanisms are recapitulated. First, we present the anti-apoptosis, anti-invasion/metastasis and anti-inflammation effect of resveratrol; second, the main signaling pathways involved in these activities are described and summarized with the studies of different tumors involved. Resveratrol not only induces apoptosis of tumor cells through intrinsic/extrinsic pathways and cell cycle arrest, but also inhibits the invasion and metastasis abilities of tumors via modulating collagen degradation-related molecular targets. Altogether, the present findings suggest the anti-tumor potential of resveratrol against various types of cancers.