Cancer protection associated with the consumption of olive products is well established, but not for leukemia. The protective effects of olive (Olea europaea L.) leaves were investigated by incubating human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells with olive leaf extracts (OLEs) from seven principal Tunisian olive varieties, namely, Chemchali, Chemlali, Chétoui, Gerboui, Sayali, Zalmati and Zarrazi. The results showed significant growth inhibition of HL-60 cells incubated for 48 h with a 100-fold dilution of each OLE which had been obtained by incubating 10 g of dried leaves in 100 ml of 70% ethanol for one week with subsequent ultrafiltration. DNA fragmentation was observed in the cells incubated for 19 h with a 100-fold dilution of the Chemchali, Chemlali and Zalmati extracts. The results of a nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT) assay revealed NBT reduction, a differentiation marker, by the OLE-treated cells after an overnight incubation. The Gerboui extract showed the highest NBT reduction ability at more than 90%. An HPLC analysis revealed the presence of apigenin 7-glucoside in the extract, which was found in subsequent experiments to be responsible for the Gerboui extract-mediated cell differentiation.