Background Human influenza is a seasonal disease associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Anti-flu Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has played a significant role in fighting the virus pandemic. In TCM, dandelion is a commonly used ingredient in many therapeutic remedies, either alone or in conjunction with other natural substances. Evidence suggests that dandelion is associated with a variety of pharmacological activities. In this study, we evaluated anti-influenza virus activity of an aqueous extract from dandelion, which was tested for in vitro antiviral activity against influenza virus type A, human A/PR/8/34 and WSN (H1N1). Results Results obstained using antiviral assays, minigenome assay and real-time reverse transcription-PCR analysis showed that 0.625-5 mg/ml of dandelion extracts inhibited infections in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells or Human lung adenocarcinoma cell line (A549) of PR8 or WSN viruses, as well as inhibited polymerase activity and reduced virus nucleoprotein (NP) RNA level. The plant extract did not exhibit any apparent negative effects on cell viability, metabolism or proliferation at the effective dose. This result is consistent with the added advantage of lacking any reported complications of the plant's utility in traditional medicine over several centuries. Conclusion The antiviral activity of dandelion extracts indicates that a component or components of these extracts possess anti-influenza virus properties. Mechanisms of reduction of viral growth in MDCK or A549 cells by dandelion involve inhibition on virus replication.