Efforts in prevention and control of tuberculosis suffer from the lack of detailed knowledge of the mechanisms used by pathogenic mycobacteria for survival within host cell macrophages. The exploitation of host cell signaling pathways to the benefit of the pathogen is a phenomenon that deserves to be looked into in detail. We have tested the hypothesis that lipoarabinomannan (LAM) from the virulent species of Mycobacterium tuberculosis possesses the ability to modulate signaling pathways linked to cell survival. The Bcl-2 family member Bad is a proapoptotic protein. Phosphorylation of Bad promotes cell survival in many cell types. We demonstrate that man-LAM stimulates Bad phosphorylation in a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3K)-dependent pathway in THP-1 cells. Man-LAM activated PI-3K. LAM-stimulated phosphorylation of Bad was abrogated in cells transfected with a dominant-negative mutant of PI-3K (Delta p85), indicating that activation of PI-3K is sufficient to trigger phosphorylation of Bad by LAM. Since phosphorylation of Bad occurred at serine 136, the target of the serine/threonine kinase Akt, the effect of LAM on Akt kinase activity was tested. Man-LAM could activate Akt as evidenced from phosphorylation of Akt at Thr(308) and by the phosphorylation of the exogenous substrate histone 2B. Akt activation was abrogated in cells transfected with Deltap85. The phosphorylation of Bad by man-LAM was abrogated in cells transfected with a kinase-dead mutant of Akt. These results establish that LAM-mediated Bad phosphorylation occurs in a PI-3K/Akt-dependent manner. It is therefore the first demonstration of the ability of a mycobacterial virulence factor to up-regulate a signaling pathway involved in cell survival. This is likely to be one of a number of virulence-associated mechanisms by which bacilli control host cell apoptosis.