Scatter factor (SF) [aka. hepatocyte growth factor (HGF)] (designated HGF/SF) is a multifunctional cytokine that stimulates tumor cell invasion and angiogenesis. We recently reported that HGF/SF protects epithelial and carcinoma cells against cytotoxicity from DNA-damaging agents and that HGF/SF-mediated cytoprotection was associated with up-regulation of the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-XL in cells exposed to adriamycin. We now report that in addition to blocking apoptosis, HGF/SF markedly enhances the repair of DNA strand breaks caused by adriamycin or gamma radiation. Constitutive expression of Bcl-XL in MDA-MB-453 breast cancer cells not only simulated the HGF/SF-mediated chemoradioresistance, but also enhanced the repair of DNA strand breaks. The ability of HGF/SF to induce both chemoresistance and DNA repair was inhibited by wortmannin, suggesting that these activities of HGF/SF are due, in part, to a phosphatidylinositol-3'-kinase (PI3K) dependent signaling pathway. Consistent with this finding, HGF/SF induced the phosphorylation of c-Akt (protein kinase-B), a PI3K substrate implicated in apoptosis inhibition; and an expression vector encoding a dominant negative kinase inactive Akt partially but significantly inhibited HGF/SF-mediated cell protection and DNA repair. These findings suggest that HGF/SF activates a cell survival and DNA repair pathway that involves signaling through PI3K and c-Akt and stabilization of the expression of Bcl-XL; and they implicate Bcl-XL in the DNA repair process.