Lanthanide complexes have recently received considerable attention in the field of therapeutic and diagnostic medicines. Among many applications of lanthanides, gadolinium complexes are used as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast agents in clinical radiology and luminescent lanthanides for bioanalysis, imaging and sensing. The chemistry of photoactive lanthanide complexes showing biological applications is of recent origin. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive treatment modality of cancer using a photosensitizer drug and light. This review primarily focuses on different aspects of the chemistry of lanthanide complexes showing photoactivated DNA cleavage activity and cytotoxicity in cancer cells. Macrocyclic texaphyrin-lanthanide complexes are known to show photocytotoxicity with the PDT effect in near-IR light. Very recently, non-macrocyclic lanthanide complexes are reported to show photocytotoxicity in cancer cells. Attempts have been made in this perspective article to review and highlight the photocytotoxic behaviour of various lanthanide complexes for their potential photochemotherapeutic applications.