This study reports the structure-activity relationship of a series of 8-hydroxoquinoline derivatives (8-HQs) and focuses on the cytotoxic activity of 5-Cl-7-I-8-HQ (clioquinol, CQ) copper complex (Cu(CQ)). 8-HQs alone cause a dose-dependent loss of viability of the human tumor HeLa and PC3 cells, but the coadministration of copper increases the ligands effects, with extensive cell death occurring in both cell lines. Cytotoxic doses of Cu(CQ) promote intracellular copper accumulation and massive endoplasmic reticulum vacuolization that precede a nonapoptotic (paraptotic) cell death. The cytotoxic effect of Cu(CQ) is reproduced in normal human endothelial cells (HUVEC) at concentrations double those effective in tumor cells, pointing to a potential therapeutic window for Cu(CQ). Finally, the results show that the paraptotic cell death induced by Cu(CQ) does not require nor involve caspases, giving an indication for the current clinical assessment of clioquinol as an antineoplastic agent.