The disease of cancer has been ranked second after cardiovascular diseases and plant-derived molecules have played an important role for the treatment of cancer. Nine cytotoxic plant-derived molecules such as vinblastine, vincristine, navelbine, etoposide, teniposide, taxol, taxotere, topotecan and irinotecan have been approved as anticancer drugs. Recently, epothilones are being emerging as future potential anti-tumor agents. However, targeted cancer therapy has now been rapidly expanding and small organic molecules are being exploited for this purpose. Amongst target specific small organic molecules, quinazoline was found as one of the most successful chemical class in cancer chemotherapy as three drugs namely Gefitinib, Erlotinib and Canertinib belong to this series. Now, quinazoline related chemical classes such as quinolines and naphthyridines are being exploited in cancer chemotherapy and a number of molecules such as compounds EKB-569 (52), HKI-272 (78) and SNS-595 (127a) are in different phases of clinical trials. This review presents the synthesis of quinolines and naphthyridines derivatives, screened for anticancer activity since year 2000. The synthesis of most potent derivatives in each prototype has been delineated. A brief structure activity relationship for each prototype has also been discussed. It has been observed that aniline group at C-4, aminoacrylamide substituents at C-6, cyano group at C-3 and alkoxy groups at C-7 in the quinoline ring play an important role for optimal activity. While aminopyrrolidine functionality at C-7, 2-thiazolyl at N-1 and carboxy group at C-3 in 1,8-naphthyridine ring are essential for eliciting the cytotoxicity. This review would help the medicinal chemist to design and synthesize molecules for targeted cancer chemotherapy.