We have previously shown that activation of the acid sphingomyelinase (ASM), the release of ceramide and the formation of ceramide-enriched membrane domains are central for the induction of apoptosis by CD95. Here, we demonstrate that tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and CD95 activate the ASM via a redox mechanism resulting in release of ceramide and formation of ceramide-enriched membrane platforms. Ceramide-enriched membrane platforms serve to cluster DR5 upon stimulation. Antioxidants prevent TRAIL-mediated stimulation of ASM, the release of ceramide, the formation of ceramide-enriched membrane platforms and the induction of apoptosis by TRAIL. Further, ASM-deficient splenocytes fail to cluster DR5 in ceramide-enriched membrane domains upon TRAIL stimulation and resist TRAIL-induced apoptosis, events that were restored by addition of natural C(16)-ceramide. A dose-response analysis indicates that ceramide-enriched membrane platforms greatly sensitized tumor cells to TRAIL-induced apoptosis. Our data indicate that ceramide-enriched membrane platforms are required for the signaling of TRAIL-DR5 complexes under physiological conditions.