Triterpenoids are a novel class of compounds being investigated as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of prostate cancer and other malignancies. Asiatic acid (AA) is a member of the ursane family of triterpenoids and has anticancer activity, but its mechanism of action is not completely understood. To investigate its mechanism of action, PPC-1 prostate cancer cells were treated with AA at increasing concentrations and times. AA induced rapid caspase-dependent and independent cell death that peaked within 8 h of treatment. AA-induced death was associated with early activation of caspases 2, 3, and 8, but not caspase 9. Within 2.5 h of treatment, release of calcium from intracellular stores and dilatation of the endoplasmic reticulum was observed. Thus, disruption of the endoplasmic reticulum and alterations in calcium homeostasis are early events in AA-induced death.