Ampelopsis sinica root (ASR) is a known hepatoprotective folk traditional Chinese medicine. The anti‑hepatoma activity of ethyl acetate extract from A. sinica root (ASRE) in vitro and in vivo and its possible mechanism were explored. This study was designed to investigate cytotoxicity by MTT assay, induction of apoptosis via Hoechst 33258 staining, scanning electron microscopy and bivariate flow cytometric analysis (Annexin V-FITC/PI), inflammation and apoptosis related genes expression by RT-PCR and p53 protein expression by immunofluorescence assay in HepG2 cells. Then, the antitumor activity in vivo was detected by hepatoma H22 xenograft tumor in mice. The results showed that ASRE had powerful anti‑hepatoma activity in vitro without obvious toxicity on normal cells and could induce HepG2 cell apoptosis. The mechanism may be associated with downregulation of inflammatory cytokines including cyclooxygenase-2, 5-lipoxygenase and FLAP, increase of the ratio of bax/bcl-2, activation caspase-3 and inhibition of survivin, and increased expression of p53 protein. Furthermore, the HPLC assay showed the main compounds of ASRE were gallic acid, catechin and gallic acid ethyl ester. In animal experiments, ASR ethanol extract decreased the tumor weights of hepatoma H22 tumor-bearing mice. Therefore, ASR may be a potential therapeutic agent in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.