The X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis (XIAP) and cellular inhibitor of apoptosis-1 (cIAP-1) are emerging as versatile proteins in programmed cell death with a scope of possible functions reaching far beyond their well known inhibitory effects on caspases. We previously demonstrated that the ability of drugs to modify expression and cleavage of the IAPs are crucial for the synergistic effects achieved by the combinations of different cytotoxic drugs employed to treat malignant lymphomas. In order to more clearly assess the underlying molecular mechanisms, we here evaluated the consequences of drug-induced apoptosis on the localization and aggregation of XIAP and cIAP-1. The influence of drug-induced apoptosis on localization of IAPs was investigated using immunofluorescence microscopy as well as western blot analysis. Apoptosis was induced by chemotherapeutic drugs with different modes of action (bendamustine, cladribine, fludarabine, doxorubicin and mitoxantrone) and assessed by flow-cytometry using Annexin V. We demonstrate that XIAP and cIAP-1 are downregulated and/or cleaved in a dose-dependent manner upon treatment with a variety of anti-cancer drugs. Moreover we provide evidence that in the context of drug-induced apoptosis XIAP, its BIR3-RING cleavage product and cIAP-1 undergo an extensive change of subcellular localization. Immunofluorescence microscopy reveals that XIAP, in contrast to cIAP-1, is located in discrete cytosolic protein aggregates and-upon induction of apoptosis with cytotoxic drugs--redistributes into large nuclear inclusions. This translocation of XIAP and its BIR3-RING cleavage product from the cytosol into the nucleus is confirmed by cell fractionation and western blot analyses. Of note, in this experimental setting putative interaction partners of XIAP-such as Apaf-1, caspase-3 and -7--do not co-localize with XIAP. These results imply a new unknown function of XIAP and its BIR3-RING fragment in the nucleus in the context of drug-induced apoptosis. The localization of cIAP-1 in mitochondria and its liberation from these indicate a profoundly different function of this protein despite its similar modular structure to XIAP.