A rhodium(III) complex, [Rh(MQ)(DMSO)2Cl2] (1), with 8-hydroxy-2-methylquinoline as the ligand was synthesized and characterized. Complex 1 exhibited cytotoxicity against BEL-7404, Hep-G2, NCI-H460, T-24, and A549 cell lines with IC50 values in the micromolar range (6.52–17.86 μM). Various experiments on the Hep-G2 cells showed that complex 1 caused cell cycle arrest at the S phase, downregulation of cdc25 A, cyclin A, cyclin B and CDK2, and upregulation of p21, p27 and p53. Furthermore, cytotoxicity mechanism studies suggested that complex 1-induced apoptosis was achieved via disruption of the mitochondrial function, which led to a significant loss of the mitochondrial membrane potential, an increase in the cellular levels of reactive oxygen species, cytochrome c, and apaf-1, and a fluctuation of the intracellular Ca2+ concentration. Taken altogether, complex 1 can trigger cancer cell death by inducing apoptosis through a mitochondrial dysfunction pathway.