Diclofenac is the most commonly used phenylacetic acid derivative non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that demonstrates significant analgesic, antipyretic, and anti-inflammatory effects. Several epidemiological studies have demonstrated anti-proliferative activity of NSAIDs and examined their apoptotic induction effects in different cancer cell lines. However, the precise molecular mechanisms by which these pharmacological agents induce apoptosis and exert anti-carcinogenic properties are not well known. Here, we have observed that diclofenac treatment induces proteasome malfunction and promotes accumulation of different critical proteasome substrates, including few pro-apoptotic proteins in cells. Exposure of diclofenac consequently elevates aggregation of various ubiquitylated misfolded proteins. Finally, we have shown that diclofenac treatment promotes apoptosis in cells, which could be because of mitochondrial membrane depolarization and cytochrome c release into cytosol. This study suggests possible beneficial insights of NSAIDs-induced apoptosis that may improve our existing knowledge in anti-proliferative interspecific strategies development. J. Cell. Biochem. 118: 1014–1027, 2017. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.