Epidemiological studies have revealed that a diet rich in plant-derived foods has a protective effect on human health. Identifying bioactive dietary constituents is an active area of scientific investigation that may lead to new drug discovery. Kaempferol (3,5,7-trihydroxy-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one) is a flavonoid found in many edible plants (e.g. tea, broccoli, cabbage, kale, beans, endive, leek, tomato, strawberries and grapes) and in plants or botanical products commonly used in traditional medicine (e.g. Ginkgo biloba, Tilia spp, Equisetum spp, Moringa oleifera, Sophora japonica and propolis). Some epidemiological studies have found a positive association between the consumption of foods containing kaempferol and a reduced risk of developing several disorders such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Numerous preclinical studies have shown that kaempferol and some glycosides of kaempferol have a wide range of pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, antidiabetic, anti-osteoporotic, estrogenic/antiestrogenic, anxiolytic, analgesic and antiallergic activities. In this article, the distribution of kaempferol in the plant kingdom and its pharmacological properties are reviewed. The pharmacokinetics (e.g. oral bioavailability, metabolism, plasma levels) and safety of kaempferol are also analyzed. This information may help understand the health benefits of kaempferol-containing plants and may contribute to develop this flavonoid as a possible agent for the prevention and treatment of some diseases.