Bioactive C 17 and C 18 acetylenic oxylipins have shown to contribute to the cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and potential anticancer properties of terrestrial plants. These acetylenic oxylipins are widely distributed in plants belonging to the families Apiaceae, Araliaceae, and Asteraceae, and have shown to induce cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis of cancer cells in vitro and to exert a chemopreventive effect on cancer development in vivo. The triple bond functionality of these oxylipins transform them into highly alkylating compounds being reactive to proteins and other biomolecules. This enables them to induce the formation of anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective phase 2 enzymes via activation of the Keap1-Nrf2 signaling pathway, inhibition of proinflammatory peptides and proteins, and/or induction of endoplasmic reticulum stress, which, to some extent, may explain their chemopreventive effects. In addition, these acetylenic oxylipins have shown to act as ligands for the nuclear receptor PPAR, which play a central role in growth, differentiation, and apoptosis of cancer cells. Bioactive C 17 and C 18 acetylenic oxylipins appear, therefore, to constitute a group of promising lead compounds for the development of anticancer drugs. In this review, the cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects of C 17 and C 18 acetylenic oxylipins from terrestrial plants are presented and their possible mechanisms of action and structural requirements for optimal cytotoxicity are discussed.