β-carotene, a type of terpenoid, has many metabolic and physiological functions. In particular, β-carotene has an antitumor effect. However, the efficacy of β-carotene against esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains unclear. In our study, β-carotene inhibited the growth of ESCC cells and downregulated expression of the Caveolin-1 (Cav-1) protein. Cav-1 protein was expressed only in ESCC cells, not in Het-1A cells. Moreover, β-carotene triggered apoptosis, induced cell cycle G0⁄G1 phase arrest, and inhibited cell migration. To explore the mechanism involved in these processes, we further examined the effect of β-carotene on the Cav-1-mediated AKT/NF-κB pathway. The results showed that the level of AKT and NF-κB phosphorylation was dramatically inhibited, which led to an increase in the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio. Correspondingly, the activity of Caspase-3 was also enhanced. These data suggest that β-carotene has an antiproliferative role in ESCC cells and may be a promising chemotherapeutic agent for use against ESCC cells.