DNA chip technology was used in an attempt to identify target genes responsible for apoptosis induced by etoposide, a p53 activating topoisomerase II inhibitor used clinically as an antitumor agent. 62 Individual mRNAs whose mass changed significantly were identified after screening oligonucleotide arrays capable of detecting 6591 unique human mRNA species. 12 (Nine induced and three repressed) of the etoposide-responsive genes were further studied by Northern analysis and an agreement rate of 92%, was reached. Among the 12 genes studied, two (WAF1/p21 and PCNA) are known p53 regulatory genes, two (glutathione peroxidase and S100A2 calcium-binding protein) appear to be the novel p53 target genes and the others appear to be p53-independent. Based upon these findings, the signalling pathways that possibly mediate etoposide-induced apoptosis are proposed.