Glehnia littoralis (GL) is widely used as an oriental medicine for cough, fever, stroke and other disease conditions. However, the anti-cancer properties of GL on MCF-7 human breast cancer cells have not been investigated. In order to elucidate anti-cancer properties and underlying cell death mechanisms, MCF-7cells (5 X 104/well) were treated with Glehnia littoralis root extract at 0-400 ug/ml. A hot water extract of GL root inhibited the proliferation of MCF-7 cells in a dose-dependent manner. Analysis of the cell cycle after treatment of MCF-7 cells with increasing concentrations of GL root extract for 24 hours showed significant cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase. RT-PCR and Western blot analysis both revealed that GL root extract significantly increased the expression of p21 and p27 with an accompanyingdecrease in both CDK4 and cyclin D1. Our reuslts indicated that GL root extract arrested the proliferation of MCF-7 cells in G1 phase through inhibition of CDK4 and cyclin D1 via increased induction of p21 and p27. In summary, the current study showed that GL could serve as a potential source of chemotherapeutic or chemopreventative agents against human breast cancer.