Flavopiridol is a synthetically produced flavonoid that potently inhibits the proliferation of human tumor cell lines. Flavopiridol exerts strong antitumor activity via several mechanisms, including the induction of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, and the modulation of transcriptional regulation. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of flavopiridol on a subpopulation of cluster of differentiation (CD)44(+)/CD24(-) human breast cancer MCF7 stem cells. The CD44(+)/CD24(-) cells were isolated from the MCF7 cell line by fluorescence-activated cell sorting and treated with 100, 300, 500, 750 and 1,000 nM flavopiridol for 24, 48 and 72 h. Cell viability and proliferation assays were performed to determine the inhibitory effect of flavopiridol. Gene expression profiling was analyzed using Illumina Human HT-12 v4 Expression BeadChip microarray. According to the results, the half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) value of flavopiridol was 500 nM in monolayer cells. Flavopiridol induced growth inhibition and cytotoxicity in breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) at the IC50 dose. The present study revealed several differentially regulated genes between flavopiridol-treated and untreated cells. The result of the pathway analysis revealed that flavopiridol serves an important role in translation, the ribosome biogenesis pathway, oxidative phosphorylation, the electron transport chain pathway, carbon metabolism and cell cycle. A notable result from the present study is that ribosome-associated gene expression is significantly affected by flavopiridol treatment. The data of the present study indicate that flavopiridol exhibits antitumor activity against CD44(+)/CD24(-) MCF7 BCSCs through different mechanisms, mainly by inhibiting translation and the ribosome biogenesis pathway, and could be an effective chemotherapeutic molecule to target and kill BCSCs.