AlphaA- and alphaB-crystallins are distinct antiapoptotic regulators. Regarding the antiapoptotic mechanisms, we have previously demonstrated that under staurosporine treatment, HalphaA- and HalphaB-crystallins can interact with Bax and Bcl-XS, proapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family, to sequester their translocation into mitochondria, and thus prevent the staurosporine-induced apoptosis. In the present study, we further compared the anti-apoptotic mechanisms of HalphaA- and HalphaB-crystallin in preventing human lens epithelial cells from UVA-induced apoptosis. UVA-irradiation of human lens epithelial cells turned on the apoptotic death program. Moreover, associated with the activation of the death program, UVA also activated the RAF/MEK/ERK signaling pathway. In contrast, p38 kinase and JNK1/2 signaling pathways were not activated. Inhibition of the RAF/MEK/ERK pathway by a dominant negative mutant RAF1 greatly attenuated UVA-induced apoptosis. Expression of the exogenous human alphaB-crystallin prevented UVA-induced activation of RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and thus substantially abrogated UVA-induced apoptosis. In contrast, expression of the exogenous human alphaA-crystallin did not prevent UVA-induced activation of RAF/MEK/ERK pathway. Instead, it activated AKT kinase pathway to promote survival and thus counteracted the UVA-induced apoptosis. Together, our results for the first time reveal that by regulating multiple signaling pathways the two alpha-crystallins can prevent stress-induced apoptosis through different mechanisms.