Nanomolar concentrations of human amylin promote death of RINm5F cells in a time- and concentrationdependent manner. Morphological changes of chromatin integrity suggest that cells are predominantly undergoing apoptosis. Human amylin induces significant activation of caspase-3 and strong and sustained phosphorylation of stress-activated protein kinases, c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38, that precedes cell death. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation was not concomitant with JNK and/or p38 activation. Activation of caspase-3 and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) was detected by Western blot analysis. Addition of the MEK1 inhibitor PD 98059 had no effect on amylin-induced apoptosis, suggesting that ERK activation does not play a role in this apoptotic scenario. A correlative inhibition of JNK activation by the immunosuppressive drug FK506, as well as a selective inhibition of p38 MAPK activation by SB 203580, significantly suppressed procaspase-3 processing and the extent of amylin-induced cell death. Moreover, simultaneous pretreatment with both FK506 and SB 203580, or with the caspase-3 inhibitor Ac-DEVD-CHO alone, almost completely abolished procaspase-3 processing and cell death. Thus, our results suggest that amylin-induced apoptosis proceeds through sustained activation of JNK and p38 MAPK followed by caspase-3 activation.