The antiproliferative, cytotoxic and apoptogenic activities of Bufo melanostictus (Indian common toad) skin extract (TSE) on U937 and K562 leukemic cell line has been investigated. TSE significantly (P<0.001) reduced the time-dependent cell proliferation and decreased MTT values in U937 and K562 cells. TSE (IC50 doses) suppressed the proliferating cell nuclear antigen expression in both the cells. It was demonstrated that, TSE (IC50 doses) primarily arrested the U937 and K562 cells at G1 phase of the cell cycle. Confocal microscopy showed the altered fragmented nuclei and apoptotic bodies formation in TSE (IC50 doses) treated U937 and K562 cells. Membrane blebbing, cell surface shrinkage and perforation were observed through scanning electron microscope. TSE-induced DNA fragmentation in U937 and K562 cells was reflected in single-cell gel electrophoresis. TSE significantly (P<0.001) increase the length-width ratio of DNA mass as compared to control in comet assay. The flow cytometric analysis of annexin-V binding to the cancer cells further supported the apoptotogenic activity of TSE. The effect of TSE on normal human peripheral blood mononuclear cells viability and cytotoxicity was studied in culture and found to be less cytotoxic than on the U937 and K562 cells. The findings from the present study suggested that TSE might possess potent antineoplastic agent having antiproliferative, cytotoxic and apoptogenic activity against U937 and K562 myeloid leukemic cells. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.