The cell growth inhibitory activity of the hydroethanolic extract of Achillea millefolium was studied in human tumor cell lines (NCI-H460 and HCT-15) and its mechanism of action was investigated. The GI50 concentration was determined with the sulforhodamine B assay and cell cycle and apoptosis were analyzed by flow cytometry following incubation with PI or Annexin V FITC/PI, respectively. The expression levels of proteins involved in cell cycle and apoptosis were analyzed by Western blot. The extracts were characterized regarding their phenolic composition by LC-DAD-ESI/MS. 3,5-O-Dicaffeoylquinic acid, followed by 5-O-caffeoylquinic acid, were the main phenolic acids, while, luteolin-O-acetylhexoside and apigenin-O-acetylhexoside were the main flavonoids.This extract decreased the growth of the tested cell lines, being more potent in HCT-15 and then in NCIH460 cells. Two different concentrations of the extract (75 and 100 μg/mL) caused alterations in cell cycleprofile and increased apoptosis levels in HCT-15 and NCI-H460 cells. Moreover, the extract caused an increase inp53 and p21 expression in NCI-H460 cells (which have wt p53), and reduced XIAP levels in HCT-15 cells (with mutant p53). This work enhances the importance of A. millefolium as source of bioactive phenolic compounds,particularly of XIAP inhibitors.