We investigated the effects of valproic acid (VPA) on the growth and survival of human leukemia cell lines. VPA induced cell death in all of the nine cell lines tested in a dose dependent manner. VPA-treatment induced apoptotic changes in MV411 cells including DNA fragmentation, phosphatidylserine externalization, cytochrome c release from mitochondria, and activation of caspases-3, -8, and -9. A caspase inhibitor, zVAD-FMK, inhibited the DNA fragmentation induced by VPA but not cell death. These findings suggest that VPA exerts an anti-leukemic effect by both caspase-dependent and -independent apoptotic signaling pathways.