In the present study, we report the green synthesis of NiO nanoparticles using Aegle marmelos as a fuel and this method is ecofriendly and cost effective. The plant Aegle marmelos is used in the field of pharmaceuticals to cure diseases like chronic diarrhea, peptic ulcers and dysentery in India for nearly 5 centuries. The as-prepared nanoparticles were confirmed as pure face centered cubic phase and single crystalline in nature by XRD. The formation of agglomerated spherical nanoparticles was shown by HR-SEM and HR-TEM images. The particle size calculated from HR-SEM was in the range 8–10 nm and it matches with the average crystallite size calculated from the XRD pattern. NiO shows intense emission peaks at 363 and 412 nm in its PL spectra. The band gap of 3.5 eV is observed from DRS studies and the formation of pure Ni–O is confirmed by FT-IR spectra. The as-prepared NiO nanoparticles show super paramagnetic behavior, when magnetization studies are carried out. It is then evaluated for cytotoxic activity towards A549 cell culture, antibacterial activity and photocatalytic degradation (PCD) of 4‑chlorophenol (4‑CP), which is known as the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC). From the results, it is found that the cell viability of A549 cells was effectively reduced and it showed better antibacterial activity towards gram positive bacterial strains. It is also proved to be an efficient and stable photocatalyst towards the degradation of 4‑CP. © 2018 Elsevier B.V.