NF-kappaB is activated in response to proinflammatory stimuli, infections, and physical stress. While activation of NF-kappaB by many stimuli depends on the IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex, which phosphorylates IkappaBs at N-terminal sites, the mechanism of NF-kappaB activation by ultraviolet (UV) radiation remained enigmatic, as it is IKK independent. We now show that UV-induced NF-kappaB activation depends on phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha at a cluster of C-terminal sites that are recognized by CK2 (formerly casein kinase II). Furthermore, CK2 activity toward IkappaB is UV inducible through a mechanism that depends on activation of p38 MAP kinase. Inhibition of this pathway prevents UV-induced IkappaBalpha degradation and increases UV-induced cell death. Thus, the p38-CK2-NF-kappaB axis is an important component of the mammalian UV response.