Poly(ADP-ribose) glycohydrolase (PARG) is responsible for the catabolism of poly(ADP-ribose) synthesized by poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) and other PARP-1-like enzymes. In this work, we report that PARG is cleaved during etoposide-, staurosporine-, and Fas-induced apoptosis in human cells. This cleavage is concomitant with PARP-1 processing and generates two C-terminal fragments of 85 and 74 kDa. In vitro cleavage assays using apoptotic cell extracts showed that a protease of the caspase family is responsible for PARG processing. A complete inhibition of this cleavage was achieved at nanomolar concentrations of the caspase inhibitor acetyl-Asp-Glu-Val-Asp-aldehyde, suggesting the involvement of caspase-3-like proteases. Consistently, recombinant caspase-3 efficiently cleaved PARG in vitro, suggesting the involvement of this protease in PARG processing in vivo. Furthermore, caspase-3-deficient MCF-7 cells did not show any PARG cleavage in response to staurosporine treatment. The cleavage sites identified by site-directed mutagenesis are DEID(256) downward arrow V and the unconventional site MDVD(307) downward arrow N. Kinetic studies have shown similar maximal velocity (V(max)) and affinity (K(m)) for both full-length PARG and its apoptotic fragments, suggesting that caspase-3 may affect PARG function without altering its enzymatic activity. The early cleavage of both PARP-1 and PARG by caspases during apoptosis suggests an important function for poly(ADP-ribose) metabolism regulation during this cell death process.