Ligand-induced glucocorticoid receptor (GR) activation has recently been linked to the inhibition of cell proliferation via the transcriptional induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1), which functions as a universal inhibitor of cyclin-dependent protein kinases. Herein, we identify a Ser/Thr protein phosphatase (PP5) that promotes cellular proliferation by inhibiting both glucocorticoid and p53-mediated signaling pathways leading to p21(WAF1/Cip1)-mediated growth arrest. The suppression of PP5 expression (1) markedly increases the association of GR with its cognate DNA-binding sequence, (2) induces GR transcriptional activity without the addition of hormone, and (3) increases dexamethasone-mediated induction of GR reporter activity to a level that is approximately 10 times greater than the maximal response obtainable in the presence of PP5. PP5 has no apparent effect on the binding of hormone to the GR, and dexamethasone-mediated growth arrest correlates with an increase in p53 phosphorylation. Comparative studies in p53-wild-type, p53-defective, and p53-deficient cell lines indicate that either (1) p53 participates in GR-mediated induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1), with the hyperphosphorylation of basal p53 induced by glucocorticoids sufficient for the propagation of an antiproliferative response when PP5 expression is inhibited, or (2) PP5 acts where p53-mediated and GR-induced signaling networks converge to regulate the transcriptional induction of p21(WAF1/Cip1). Thus, aberrant PP5 expression may have an additive effect on the development of human cancers by promoting cell proliferation via the inhibition of a GR-induced antiproliferative signaling cascade, and facilitating neoplastic transformation via the inhibition of a growth-arresting p53-mediated response that guards against genomic instability.