Numerous plant-derived substances, and their derivatives, are effective antitumour and chemopreventive agents. Yet, there are also a plethora of tumour types that do not respond, or become resistant, to these natural substances. This requires the discovery of new active compounds. Betulin (BE) is a pentacyclic triterpene and secondary metabolite of plants abundantly found in the outer bark of the birch tree Betulaceae sp. BE displays a broad spectrum of biological and pharmacological properties, among which the anticancer and chemopreventive activity attract most of the attention. In this vein, BE and its natural and synthetic derivatives act specifically on cancer cells with low cytotoxicity towards normal cells. Although the antineoplastic mechanism of action of BE is not well understood yet, several interesting aspects of BE's interactions are coming to light. This review will summarize the anticancer and chemopreventive potential of BE in vitro and in vivo by carefully dissecting and comparing the doses and tumour lines used in previous studies, as well as focusing on mechanisms underlying its activity at cellular and molecular level, and discuss future prospects.