Lectins, a group of highly diverse proteins of non-immune origin and are ubiquitously distributed in plants, animals and fungi, have multiple significant biological functions, such as anti-fungal, anti-viral and, most notably, anti-tumor activities. A lectin was purified from the rhizomes of Aspidistra elatior Blume, named A. elatior lectin (AEL). In vitro experiments showed that the minimum inhibitory concentrations of AEL against the vesicular stomatitis virus, Coxsackie virus B4, and respiratory syncytial virus were all the same at about 4 μg/mL. However, AEL was ineffective against the Sindbis virus and reovirus-1. AEL also showed significant in vitro antiproliferative activity towards Bre-04, Lu-04, HepG2, and Pro-01 tumor cell lines by increasing the proportion of their sub-G 1 phase. However, AEL failed to restrict the proliferation of the HeLa cell line. Western blotting indicated that AEL induced the upregulation of cell cycle-related proteins p53 and p21. The molecular basis and species-specific effectiveness of the anti-proliferative and anti-viral potential of AEL are discussed.