Plants are still to be explored for new anticancer compounds because overall success in cancer treatment is still not satisfactory. As a new possible source for such compounds, the lichens are recently taking a great attention. We, therefore, explored both the genotoxic and anti-growth properties of lichen species Parmelia sulcata Taylor. The chemical composition of P. sulcata was analyzed with comprehensive gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry. Anti-growth effect was tested in human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231) by the MTT and ATP viability assays, while the genotoxic activity was studied by assays for micronucleus, chromosomal aberration and DNA fragmentation in human lymphocytes culture. Cell death modes (apoptosis/necrosis) were morphologically assessed. P. sulcata inhibited the growth in a dose-dependent manner up to a dose of 100 mu g/ml and induced caspase-independent apoptosis. It also showed genotoxic activity at doses (>125 mu g/ml) higher than that required for apoptosis. These results suggest that P. sulcata may induce caspase-independent apoptotic cell death at lower doses, while it may be genotoxic at relatively higher doses.