The rapid development of new anticancer drugs that are safe and effective is a common goal shared by basic scientists, clinicians and patients. The current review discusses one such agent, namely niclosamide, which has been used in the clinic for the treatment of intestinal parasite infections. Recent studies repeatedly identified niclosamide as a potential anticancer agent by various high-throughput screening campaigns. Niclosamide not only inhibits the Wnt/β-catenin, mTORC1, STAT3, NF-κB and Notch signaling pathways, but also targets mitochondria in cancer cells to induce cell cycle arrest, growth inhibition and apoptosis. A number of studies have established the anticancer activities of niclosamide in both in vitro and in vivo models. Moreover, the inhibitory effects of niclosamide on cancer stem cells provide further evidence for its consideration as a promising drug for cancer therapy. This article reviews various aspects of niclosamide as they relate to its efficacy against cancer and associated molecular mechanisms. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.