We have recently reported that Rituximab (anti-CD20) sensitizes drug-resistant 2F7 and 10C9 B Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cell lines to the apoptotic effects of various chemotherapeutic drugs by downregulation of IL-10 and Bcl-2 expression. The mechanism by which Rituximab induces downregulation of IL-10 was examined. We hypothesized that Rituximab may inhibit p38 MAPK activity that regulates IL-10 expression via Sp1. Treatment of 2F7 cells with Rituximab or the p38 inhibitor SB203580 inhibited the constitutive p38 MAPK activity and resulted in the inhibition of Sp1, IL-10, STAT3, and Bcl-2. Inhibition of the Src-family PTKs, Lyn, and Src-family PTKs upstream signaling molecules of the p38MAPK pathway, by PP2, a specific Src-family kinase inhibitor, resulted in the inhibition of p38MAPK and IL-10 expression. In addition to p38 MAPK, Rituximab also inhibited NF-kappaB activity. Inhibition of the Src PTKs, MAPK, and NF-kappaB activities by Rituximab or by specific chemical inhibitors sensitized the cells to CDDP-mediated apoptosis. The above signaling-mediated effects by Rituximab were observed with similar kinetics beginning at 1 h following treatment. Thus, altogether, these results demonstrate that signaling by Rituximab results in the inhibition of the p38MAPK pathway, which in turn inhibits the transcription of IL-10 via Sp1. Inhibition of the IL-10 autocrine/paracrine loop results in the inhibition of STAT3 activity and, consequently, inhibition of Bcl-2 expression and sensitization to drugs-apoptosis. Further, Rituximab-mediated signaling identifies several new intracellular targets in NHL that may be of potential therapeutic interest for the development of new drugs in the treatment of drug-refractory NHL tumor cells.