Oxovanadium(IV) complexes [VO(aip)(L)](ClO4)2 (L = phtpy, 1; stpy, 2) and [VO(pyip)(L)](ClO4)2 (L = phtpy, 3; stpy, 4), where aip is 2-(9-anthryl)-1H-imidazo[4,5-f][1,10]phenanthroline, pyip is [2-(1-pyrenyl)-1H-imidazo[4,5-f][1,10]phenanthroline, phtpy is (4′-phenyl)-2,2′:6′,2′′-terpyridine and stpy is (2,2′:6′,2′′-terpyridin-4′-oxy)ethyl-β-D-glucopyranoside, were prepared, characterized and their DNA binding and photocleavage activity, cellular uptake and photocytotoxicity in visible light were studied. The complexes are avid binders to calf thymus DNA (Kb 105 mol−1). They efficiently cleave pUC19 DNA in red light of 705 nm via the formation of HO˙ species. The glucose appended complexes 2 and 4 showed higher photocytotoxicity in HeLa and Hep G2 cells over the normal HEK 293T cells. No such preference was observed for the phtpy complexes 1 and 3. No significant difference in IC50 values was observed for the HEK 293T cells. Cell cycle analysis showed that the glucose appended complexes 2 and 4 are more photocytotoxic in cancer cells than in normal cells. Fluorescence microscopy was done to study the cellular localization of complex 4 having a pendant pyrenyl group.