TIAF1 is a TGF-beta 1-induced factor that protects L929 fibroblasts from TNF-mediated apoptosis. In contrast, overexpressed TIAF1 induces growth inhibition and apoptosis of monocytic U937 and various nonfibroblast cells. TIAF1-mediated apoptosis of U937 cells involves upregulation of p53, p21, and Smad2/4, but downregulation of ERK phosphorylation. To determine whether p53 and TIAF1 functionally interact in regulating cell death, ectopic TIAF1 and p53 were shown to induce apoptosis of U937 cells in both synergistic and antagonistic manners. At optimal levels both TIAF1 and p53 mediated apoptosis cooperatively. Also, both proteins suppressed adherence-independent growth of L929 cells. In contrast, initiation of apoptosis by overexpressed TIAF1 was blocked by low doses of p53, and vice versa. Furthermore, ectopic p53 blocked an ongoing apoptosis in U937 cells stably expressing TIAF1. Yeast two-hybrid analyses failed to demonstrate the binding of p53 with TIAF1, suggesting an unidentified protein that links the p53/TIFA1 interaction. Suppression of TIAF1 expression by siRNA could not inhibit Ser15 phosphorylation in p53 in response to UV and etoposide. However, nuclear translocation of these Ser15-phosphorylated p53 was significantly reduced in TIAF1-silenced cells. Taken together, TIAF1 and p53 functionally interact in regulating apoptosis, and TIAF1 is likely to participate in the nuclear translocation of activated p53.