Although cisplatin is effective in the treatment of different types of tumors, resistance to treatment is a major limitation. In an attempt of overcoming resistance mechanisms, a large effort has been made to generate compounds with a different geometry. At present, the most clinically relevant compounds include mononuclear (i.e. oxaliplatin) as well as multinuclear platinum complexes (i.e. BBR 3464). The mechanisms of cellular response to platinum complexes have not been completely elucidated. Among the main pathways affecting cell sensitivity of these drugs a role for p53 has been proposed at least for cisplatin and BBR 3464. Our results indicate that, also in the case of oxaliplatin, cytotoxicity is modulated by this pathway. Indeed, the effect of oxaliplatin could be reduced in tumor cells expressing mutant p53. The DNA mismatch repair system also appears to be critical in regulating cellular sensitivity to cisplatin because the loss of DNA mismatch repair results in low level of resistance to cisplatin, but not to oxaliplatin. Thus, platinum compounds are endowed with differential capability to activate pathways of p53-dependent or independent apoptosis, and differential recognition by specific cellular systems is likely to be the critical determinant of the cell fate (death/survival) after drug exposure. Further molecular studies are required to better define the precise contribution of such pathways to the cellular responses of the clinically relevant platinum complexes. A complete understanding of the molecular basis of sensitivity to platinum drugs is expected to provide useful insights for the optimization of tumor treatment.