Extracts of Aesculus hippocastanum L. (horse chestnut) seed have been used in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, edema and hemorrhoids. Most of the beneficial effects of horse chestnut are attributed to its principal component β-escin or escin. We have evaluated the cytotoxic and apoptotic effects of escin in the H-Ras 5RP7 cell line by analyzing cell growth inhibition, apoptosis and caspase-3 dependent activity. We have also shown structural and ultrastructural changes in these cell using confocal and transmission electron microscopy. The results indicated that escin has significant inhibitory effects on cell growth and the percentage of apoptotic cells increased after treatment with escin, and the micrographs confirmed that escin damaged these cells and induced apoptosis. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.