Survivin has been shown to be highly expressed in ovarian cancers, but not normal ovarian tissue, which makes it an attractive target for ovarian cancer treatment. Emodin is a traditional Chinese medicine that has been found to inhibit proliferation and induce apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells. Thus, in our study, we combined survivin-targeted shRNA (sur-shRNA) with emodin and tested the effects of this combination on ovarian cancer cells to identify more effective therapeutics against ovarian cancer. A sur-shRNA plasmid was constructed and transfected into the ovarian cancer cell lines SKOV3 and HO8910, and the cells were cultured for 24 h. The cells were then treated with emodin for specific time periods and assessed for viability and apoptosis using the MTT assay and flow cytometry, respectively. Cell invasion was also measured using a Matrigel invasion assay. The shRNA specific for survivin effectively reduced the expression of survivin at the mRNA and protein levels in SKOV3 and HO8910 cells. Both emodin and shRNA-mediated knockdown of survivin significantly inhibited cell proliferation, induced apoptosis, and suppressed invasion in SKOV3 and HO8910 cells (P<0.05). Moreover, the combination of the agents significantly enhanced these effects (P<0.05). We found that the combination of sur-shRNA and emodin could be effective in the treatment of ovarian cancer.