The cinobufagin (CB) has a broad spectrum of cytotoxicity to inhibit cell proliferation of various human cancer cell lines, but the molecular mechanisms still remain elusive. Here we observed that CB inhibited the cell proliferation and tumor growth, but induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. Treatment with CB significantly increased the reactive oxygen species but decreased the mitochondrial membrane potential in NSCLC cells. These effects were markedly blocked when the cells were pretreated with N-acetylcysteine, a specific reactive oxygen species inhibitor. Furthermore, treatment with CB induced the expression of BAX but reduced that of BCL-2, BCL-XL and MCL-1, leading to an activation of caspase-3, chromatin condensation and DNA degradation in order to induce programmed cell death in NSCLC cells. In addition, treatment with CB reduced the expressions of p-AKTT308 and p-AKTS473 and inhibited the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in NSCLC cells in a time-dependent manner. Our results suggest that CB inhibits tumor growth by inducing intrinsic apoptosis through the AKT signaling pathway in NSCLC cells.