The PTEN tumor suppressor is frequently mutated in human tumors. Loss of PTEN function is associated with constitutive survival signaling through the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase/Akt pathway. Therefore, we asked if reconstitution of PTEN function would lead to the reversal of resistance to apoptosis in prostate cancer cells. Adenovirus-mediated expression of PTEN completely suppressed constitutive Akt activation in LNCaP prostate cancer cells and enhanced apoptosis induced by a broad range of apoptotic stimuli. PTEN expression sensitized cells to death receptor-mediated apoptosis induced by tumor necrosis factor, anti-Fas antibody, and TRAIL. PTEN also sensitized cells to non-receptor mediated apoptosis induced by a kinase inhibitor staurosporine and chemotherapeutic agents mitoxantrone and etoposide. PTEN-mediated apoptosis was accompanied by caspase-3 and caspase-8 activation and was inhibited by a broad specificity caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk. Bcl-2 overexpression also blocked PTEN-mediated apoptosis. Lipid phosphatase activity of PTEN is required for apoptosis as the PTEN G129E mutant selectively deficient in lipid phosphatase activity was unable to sensitize cells to apoptosis. PTEN-mediated apoptosis involves a FADD-dependent pathway for both death receptor-mediated and drug-induced apoptosis as coexpression of a dominant negative FADD mutant blocked PTEN-mediated apoptosis. Since in death receptor signaling, FADD mediates activation of caspase-8, which in turn cleaves BID, and since caspase-8 is activated in PTEN-mediated apoptosis, we examined BID cleavage in PTEN-mediated apoptosis. PTEN facilitated BID cleavage after treatment with low doses of staurosporine and mitoxantrone. BID cleavage was inhibited by dominant negative FADD. Taken together, these data are consistent with the hypothesis that PTEN promotes drug-induced apoptosis by facilitating caspase-8 activation and BID cleavage through a FADD-dependent pathway.