Chronic exposure of many human hepatoma cell lines to a low dose (LD) of doxorubicin induced a senescence-like phenotype (SLP) accompanied by enlargement of cells and increased senescence-associated beta-galactosidase activity. LD doxorubicin-induced SLP was preceded by multinucleation and downregulation of multiple proteins with mitotic checkpoint function, including CENP-A, Mad2, BubR1, and Chk1. LD doxorubicin-treated cells eventually underwent cell death through mitotic catastrophe. When we investigated whether LD doxorubicin-induced cell death shares biochemical characteristics with high dose (HD) doxorubicin-induced apoptosis in Huh-7 cells, we observed that externalization of phosphatidyl serine and release of mitochondrial cytochrome c into the cytosol was associated with both types of cell death. However, propidium iodide exclusion assays showed that membrane integrity was lost in the initial phase of LD doxorubicin-induced cell death through mitotic catastrophe, whereas it was lost during the late phase of HD doxorubicin-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, HD doxorubicin-induced apoptosis but not LD doxorubicin-induced mitotic catastrophe led to transient activation of NF-kappaB and strong, sustained activations of p38, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and caspases. Collectively, these results indicate that different doses of doxorubicin activate different regulatory mechanisms to induce either apoptosis or cell death through mitotic catastrophe.