Akt is known to be activated in the rheumatoid synovial tissues. We examined here functional role of Akt during tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL)-mediated apoptosis in rheumatoid synovial cells. Rheumatoid synovial cells in vitro were rapidly committed to apoptosis in response to TRAIL in mitochondria-dependent manner whereas Akt and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) were also phosphorylated. TRAIL-mediated apoptosis in synovial cells was significantly increased through inactivation of Akt by LY294002, however, that process was not so changed by adding ERK inhibitor, PD98059. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) clearly phosphorylated both Akt and ERK in synovial cells, and PDGF pretreatment markedly suppressed TRAIL-mediated synovial cell apoptosis. The use of not PD98059 but LY294002 abrogated PDGF-mediated inhibitory effect toward TRAIL-induced apoptosis in synovial cells. The above protective effect of Akt was confirmed by the use of short interfering RNA (siRNA)-directed inhibition of Akt. Our data suggest that Akt is an endogenous inhibitor during TRAIL-mediated synovial cell apoptotic pathway, which may explain that synovial cells in situ of the rheumatoid synovial tissues are resistant toward apoptotic cell death in spite of death receptor expression.