Vitamin D is a secosteroid hormone that regulates many biological functions in addition to its classical role in maintaining calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism. Vitamin D deficiency appears to predispose individuals to increased risk of developing a number of cancers. Compelling epidemiological and experimental evidence supports a role for vitamin D in cancer prevention and treatment in many types of cancers. Preclinical studies show that 1,25D3, the active metabolite of vitamin D, and its analogs have antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo through multiple mechanisms including the induction of cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, differentiation and the suppression of inflammation, angiogenesis, invasion, and metastasis. 1,25D3 also potentiates the effect of chemotherapeutic agents and other agents in the combination treatment. In this review, the antitumor effects of 1,25D3 and the potential underlying mechanisms will be discussed. The current findings support the application of 1,25D3 in cancer prevention and treatment.