Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) biofilms are clinically serious and play a critical role in the persistence of chronic infections due to their ability to resist antibiotics. The inhibition of biofilm formation is viewed as a new strategy for the prevention of S. aureus infections. Here, we demonstrated that minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of aloe-emodin exhibited no bactericidal activity against S. aureus but affected S. aureus biofilm development in a dose-dependent manner. Further studies indicated that aloe-emodin specifically inhibits the initial adhesion and proliferation stages of S. aureus biofilm development. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) indicated that the S. aureus ATCC29213 biofilm extracellular matrix is mainly composed of protein. Laser scanning confocal microscope assays revealed that aloe-emodin treatment primarily inhibited extracellular protein production. Moreover, the Congo red assay showed that aloe-emodin also reduced the accumulation of polysaccharide intercellular adhesin (PIA) on the cell surface. These findings will provide new insights into the mode of action of aloe-emodin in the treatment of infections by S. aureus biofilms.