Since DNA-dependent protein kinase (DNA-PK) has been known to play a protective role against drug-induced apoptosis, the role of DNA-PK in the regulation of mitochondrial heat shock proteins by anticancer drugs was examined. The levels of basal and drug-induced mitochondrial heat shock proteins of drug-sensitive parental cells were higher than those of multidrug-resistant (MDR) cells. We also demonstrated that the development of MDR might be correlated with the increased expression of Ku-subunit of DNA-PK and concurrent down-regulation of mitochondrial heat shock proteins. The basal mtHsp70 and Hsp60 levels of Ku70(-/-) cells, which were known to be sensitive to anticancer drugs, were higher than those of parental MEF cells, but conversely these mitochondrial heat shock proteins of R7080-6 cells over-expressing both Ku70 and Ku80 were lower than those of parental Rat-1 cells. Also, the mtHsp70 and Hsp60 levels of DNA-PKcs-deficient SCID cells were higher than those of parental CB-17 cells. Our results suggest the possibility that mitochondrial heat shock protein may be one of determinants of drug sensitivity and could be regulated by DNA-PK activity.