BAY 43-9006, a multikinase inhibitor that targets Raf, prevents tumor cell proliferation in vitro and inhibits diverse human tumor xenografts in vivo. The mechanism of action of BAY 43-9006 remains incompletely defined. In the present study, the effects of BAY 43-9006 on the antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family member Mcl-1 were examined. Treatment of A549 lung cancer cells with BAY 43-9006 diminished Mcl-1 levels in a time- and dose-dependent manner without affecting other Bcl-2 family members. Similar BAY 43-9006-induced Mcl-1 downregulation was observed in ACHN (renal cell), HT-29 (colon), MDA-MB-231 (breast), KMCH (cholangiocarcinoma), Jurkat (acute T-cell leukemia), K562 (chronic myelogenous leukemia) and MEC-2 (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) cells. Mcl-1 mRNA levels did not change in BAY 43-9006-treated cells. Instead, BAY 43-9006 enhanced proteasome-mediated Mcl-1 degradation. This Mcl-1 downregulation was followed by mitochondrial cytochrome c release and caspase activation as well as enhanced sensitivity to other proapoptotic agents. The caspase inhibitor Boc-D-fmk inhibited BAY 43-9006-induced caspase activation but not cytochrome c release. In contrast, Mcl-1 overexpression inhibited cytochrome c release and other features of BAY 43-9006-induced apoptosis. Conversely, Mcl-1 downregulation by short hairpin RNA enhanced BAY 43-9006-induced apoptosis. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that drug-induced Mcl-1 downregulation contributes to the proapoptotic effects of BAY 43-9006.