Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) promote the proliferation of multiple myeloma (MM) cells and protect them against dexamethasone (Dex)-induced apoptosis. We have previously shown that Apo2 ligand/TNF-Related apoptosis inducing ligand (Apo2L/TRAIL) induces apoptosis of MM cells, including cells either sensitive or resistant to Dex and cytotoxic drugs, and overcomes the growth and survival effect of IL-6; conversely, NF-kappaB transcriptional activity attenuates their Apo2L/TRAIL-sensitivity. In the current study, we demonstrate that IGF-1 stimulates sustained activation of NF-kappaB and Akt; induces phosphorylation of the FKHRL-1 Forkhead transcription factor; upregulates a series of intracellular anti-apoptotic proteins including FLIP, survivin, cIAP-2, A1/Bfl-1, and XIAP; and decreases Apo2L/TRAIL-sensitivity of MM cells. In contrast, IL-6 does not cause sustained NF-kappaB activation, induces less pronounced Akt activation and FKHRL-1 phosphorylation than IGF-1, and increases the expression of only survivin. Forced overexpression of constitutively active Akt in MM-1S cells reduced their sensitivity to Apo2L/TRAIL and to doxorubicin (Doxo). In contrast, the Akt inhibitor IL-6-Hydroxymethyl-chiro-inositol 2-(R)-2-O-methyl-3-O-octadecylcarbonate induced cell death of both Dex- and Doxo-sensitive and -resistant cells; opposed the protective effect of constitutive Akt activity against Apo2L/TRAIL; and abrogated the NF-kappaB activation, increase of anti-apoptotic proteins and protection against Apo2L/TRAIL induced by IGF-1. These findings therefore define an important role of the Akt pathway in modulating tumor cell responsiveness to Apo2L/TRAIL, delineate molecular mechanisms for the survival effects of IGF-1, and characterize differential pathophysiologic sequelae of IGF-1 vs IL-6 on MM cells. Importantly, they provide the basis for future clinical trials in MM combining conventional or novel agents with strategies designed to neutralize IGF-1.