In vivo infection of lymphatic tissues by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) leads to enhanced apoptosis, which prominently involves uninfected bystander cells. Increased killing of such bystander cells is mediated in part through Nef induction of Fas ligand (FasL) expression on the surface of the virally infected T cells. The subsequent interaction of FasL with Fas (CD95) displayed on neighbouring cells, including HIV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes, may lead to bystander cell killing and thus forms an important mechanism of immune evasion. As HIV-1 also enhances Fas expression on virally infected cells, it is unclear how these hosts avoid rapid cell-autonomous apoptosis mediated through cis ligation of Fas by FasL. Here we show that HIV-1 Nef associates with and inhibits apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1), a serine/threonine kinase that forms a common and key signalling intermediate in the Fas and tumour-necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) death-signalling pathways. The interaction of Nef with ASK1 inhibits both Fas- and TNFalpha-mediated apoptosis, as well as the activation of the downstream c-Jun amino-terminal kinase. Our findings reveal a strategy by which HIV-1 Nef promotes the killing of bystander cells through the induction of FasL, while simultaneously protecting the HIV-1-infected host cell from these same pro-apoptotic signals through its interference with ASK1 function.