Cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosin), a polyadenylation specific inhibitor, is the main functional component in Cordyceps militaris which is one of the top three famous traditional Chinese medicine. It has been shown to possess many pharmacological activities including immunologically stimulating, anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-virus, anti-infection effects. However, its anti-cancer molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. In this study, the apoptotic effects by cordycepin were investigates in human leukemia cells. Treatment of cordycepin significantly inhibited cells growth in a concentrationdependent manner by inducing apoptosis, as evidenced by morphological change and apoptotic cell death such as formation of apoptotic bodies, DNA fragmentation and increased populations of sub-G1. Induction of apoptosis by cordycepin was associated with modulation of Bcl-2 and inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP) family expression. Cordycepin also increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation, activation of casepase-3, caspase-8, caspase-9, cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP), β-catenin and phospholipase C (PLC)-γ1 protein. The quenching of ROS generation by N-acetyl-L-cysteine administration, a scavenger of ROS, reversed the cordycepin-induced apoptosis effects. Theresults suggested that cordycepin may be a potential chemotherapeutic agent for the treatment of leukemia patients [This work was supported by Blue-Bio Industry RIC at Dong-Eui University as a RIC (08-06-07) program of ITEP under Ministry of Knowledge Economy].