Abstract Background Tumor resistance to platinum-based drugs has been an obstacle to the treatment of ovarian cancer. Extract of the plant Rauwolfia vomitoria has long been used by cancer patients. However, there have not been systematic studies of its anticancer activity. Objective In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of platinum-based drugs, we investigated the anticancer effect of a Rauwolfia vomitoria extract (Rau), both alone and in combination with carboplatin (Cp). Methods In vitro cytotoxicity and colony formation were evaluated in several ovarian cancer cell lines. In vivo effects were evaluated in an intraperitoneal ovarian cancer mouse model. The combination of Rau and Cp was assessed using Chou-Talalay’s constant ratio design and median effect analysis based on the isobologram principle to determine the combination index values. Results Rau decreased cell growth in all 3 tested ovarian cancer cell lines dose dependently and completely inhibited formation of colonies in soft agar. Apoptosis was induced in a time- and dose-dependent manner and was the predominant form of Rau-induced cell death. Synergy of Rau with Cp was detected, with combination index values <1 and dose reduction index values for Cp ranging from 1.7- to 7-fold. Tumor growth in mice was significantly suppressed by 36% or 66% with Rau treatment alone at a low (20 mg/kg) or a high dose (50 mg/kg), respectively, an effect comparable to that of Cp alone. The volume of ascitic fluid and the number of nonblood cells in ascites were also significantly decreased. Combining Rau with Cp remarkably enhanced the effect of Cp and reduced tumor burden by 87% to 90% and ascites volume by 89% to 97%. Conclusions Rau has potent antitumor activity and in combination significantly enhances the effect of Cp against ovarian cancer.