In addition to coordinating immune and inflammatory responses, NF-kappaB/Rel transcription factors control cell survival. The NF-kappaB antiapoptotic function is crucial to oncogenesis, cancer chemoresistance, and to antagonize tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-induced killing. Recently, we have shown that the suppression of the c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade is a pivotal protective mechanism by NF-kappaB, and that this suppression involves the upregulation of gadd45beta/myd118. Induction of gadd45beta by stress and cytokines requires NF-kappaB; however, the regulatory mechanisms underlying this induction are not known. Here, we report that, in HeLa cells, the NF-kappaB subunit RelA is sufficient to activate gadd45beta expression, whereas Rel and p50 are not. Activation of gadd45beta by RelA depends on three kappaB elements at positions -447/-438 (kappaB-1), -426/-417 (kappaB-2), and -377/-368 (kappaB-3) of the gadd45beta promoter. Each of these sites binds to NF-kappaB complexes in vitro, and is required for optimal promoter transactivation. The data establish the direct participation of NF-kappaB in the regulation of Gadd45beta, thereby providing important mechanistic insights into the control of apoptosis by the transcription factor.