A series of palladium(II) complexes (1e-3e) with the general formulae [Pd(L)(H2O)]center dot xH(2)O were newly synthesized by the interaction of palladium(II) chloride and the monosodium salts of N-(5-nitro-salicylidene)-Schiff base ligands (1a-3a) in aqueous DMF solution. The identities of all the complexes were proven by elemental analysis, FTIR, H-1, C-13 NMR, LC-MS, UV-vis, XPS, powder XRD spectra, thermal analysis, conductivity and magnetic susceptibility measurements. The obtained analytical and physicochemical results exhibited a square-planar coordination of the palladium(II) ion having a double deprotonated ligand and a coordinated water molecule. In vitro cytotoxicity of these Pd(II) complexes was screened against tumor cell lines (HeLa and MCF-7), and a normal human cell line (HEK-293). The complexes 1e and 2e exhibited a moderate antitumor activity against HeLa cell lines, while 3e had better activity than standard anticancer drug, doxorubicin. All three complexes showed the best active cytotoxicity than doxorubicin against MCF-7 cancer lines. For HEK-293 lines, a decrease in concentration of the complexes significantly decreased their toxicity. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.