Certain cancer cells proliferate under conditions of oxidative stress (OS) and might therefore be selectively targeted by redox catalysts. Among these catalysts, compounds containing a chalcogen and a quinone redox centre are particularly well suited to respond to the presence of OS. These catalysts combine the specific electrochemical features of quinones and chalcogens. They exhibit high selectivity and efficiency against oxidatively stressed rat PC12, human Jurkat and human Daudi cells in cell culture, where their mode of action most likely involves the catalytic activation of existent and the generation of new reactive oxygen species. The high efficiency and selectivity shown by these catalysts makes them interesting for the development of anti-cancer drugs.