Quercetin, a ubiquitous bioactive plant flavonoid, has been shown to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells. However, the regulation of survivin and p53 on the quercetin-induced cell growth inhibition and apoptosis in cancer cells remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the roles of survivin and p53 in the quercetin-treated human lung carcinoma cells. Quercetin (20-80 μM for 24 h) induced the cytotoxicity and apoptosis in both A549 and H1299 lung carcinoma cells in a concentration-dependent manner. Additionally, quercetin inhibited the cell growth, increased the fractions of G2/M phase, and raised the levels of cyclin B1 and phospho-cdc2 (threonine 161) proteins. Moreover, quercetin induced abnormal chromosome segregation in H1299 cells. The survivin proteins were highly expressed in mitotic phase and were located on the midbody of cytokinesis; however, the survivin proteins were increased and concentrated on the nuclei following quercetin treatment in the lung carcinoma cells. Transfection of a survivin antisense oligodeoxynucleotide enhanced the quercetin-induced cell growth inhibition and cytotoxicity. Subsequently, quercetin increased the levels of total p53 (DO-1), phospho-p53 (serine 15), and p21 proteins, which were translocated to the nuclei in A549 cells. Treatment with a specific p53 inhibitor, pifithrin-α, or transfection of a p53 antisense oligodeosynucleotide enhanced the cytotoxicity of the quercetin-treated cells. Furthermore, transfection of a small interfering RNA of p21 enhanced the quercetin-induced cell death in A549 cells. Together, our results suggest that survivin can reduce the cell growth inhibition and apoptosis, and p53 elevates the p21 level, which may attenuate the cell death in the quercetin-treated human lung carcinoma cells.