Abstract Morinda elliptica cell cultures in an intermediary (G) medium treated with jasmonic acid (JA) elicitor, was used as a model system to understand the effects of elicitation on cell growth, anthraquinone (AQ) production, stress levels (lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide (H 2O 2)), enzymic (catalase (CAT), ascorbate peroxidase (APO) and glutathione reductase (GR)) and non-enzymic antioxidant responses (total carotenoids, vitamin C and E). Cultures were elicitor-treated on day 12 with 50 or 100 μM JA, and harvested after 3 and 6 days of elicitation. The highest AQ content (23.6 mg g −1 DW) which was 2-fold to control but with cell growth (35 g l −1) 15% lower, was achieved with 100 μM JA. Prolonged elicitor treatment resulted in the highest level of lipid peroxidation (total MDA of 9 nmol g −1 FW) and H 2O 2 level (5.5 μmol g −1 FW). Total carotenoids, vitamin C and E were induced 200, 10 and 50%, respectively, after 6 days of elicitation. APO though induced between 100–300%, was only half the level in control, while GR was induced less than 100%. CAT on the other hand was reduced 100%.