Drug resistance and associated immune deregulation limit use of current therapies in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), thus warranting alternative therapy development. Herein we demonstrate that OSU-DY7, a novel D-tyrosinol derivative targeting p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), mediates cytotoxicity in lymphocytic cell lines representing CLL (MEC-1), acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (697 cells), Burkitt lymphoma (Raji and Ramos) and primary B cells from CLL patients in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is dependent on caspase activation, as evidenced by induction of caspase-3 activation and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) cleavage and rescue of cytotoxicity by Z-VAD-FMK. Interestingly, OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is mediated through activation of p38 MAPK, as evidenced by increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and downstream target protein MAPKAPK2. Pretreatment of B-CLL cells with SB202190, a specific p38 MAPK inhibitor, results in decreased MAPKAPK2 protein level with concomitant rescue of the cells from OSU-DY7-mediated cytotoxicity. Furthermore, OSU-DY7-induced cytotoxicity is associated with down regulation of p38 MAPK target BIRC5, that is rescued at protein and mRNA levels by SB202190. This study provides evidence for a role of OSU-DY7 in p38 MAPK activation and BIRC5 down regulation associated with apoptosis in B lymphocytic cells, thus warranting development of this alternative therapy for lymphoid malignancies.