The antiproliferative activities of aqueous and organic extracts prepared from 26 Hungarian species of the tribes Cynereae and Lactuceae (Asteraceae) were tested in vitro against HeLa (cervix epithelial adenocarcinoma), A431 (skin epidermoid carcinoma) and MCF7 (breast epithelial adenocarcinoma) cells by using the MTT assay. Of the tested 200 extracts of different plant parts obtained with n-hexane, chloroform, 50% methanol and water, 16 extracts displayed noteworthy cell growth inhibitory activity (>50% inhibition at a concentration of 10 µg/mL). The IC50 values of these extracts were determined, and their direct cytotoxic effects were measured. High differences between the antiproliferative and cytotoxic activities, demonstrating a real cell proliferation inhibitory activity rather than direct killing effects, were found for some Centaurea, Cirsium, Cichorium, Lactuca, Onopordum and Scorsonera extracts. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.