The tumour suppressor p53 and the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) respond to different types of stress. We found that dexamethasone-activated endogenous and exogenous GR inhibit p53-dependent functions, including transactivation, up- (Bax and p21(WAF1/CIP1)) and down- (Bcl2) regulation of endogenous genes, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. GR forms a complex with p53 in vivo, resulting in cytoplasmic sequestration of both p53 and GR. In neuroblastoma (NB) cells, cytoplasmic retention and inactivation of wild-type p53 involves GR. p53 and GR form a complex that is dissociated by GR antagonists, resulting in accumulation of p53 in the nucleus, activation of p53-responsive genes, growth arrest and apoptosis. These results suggest that molecules that efficiently disrupt GR-p53 interactions would have a therapeutic potential for the treatment of neuroblastoma and perhaps other diseases in which p53 is sequestered by GR.