Cancer cells are typically characterized by increased resistance towards apoptosis. Livin (alternatively called ML-IAP or KIAP) is an anti-apoptotic protein which is expressed in several cancer forms. Using real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we confirmed livin expression in a significant portion of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tissue samples and, in addition, detected livin expression in a number of NSCLC cell lines. In order to elucidate whether livin contributes to the apoptotic resistance of lung cancer cells, we silenced endogenous livin expression in a panel of cancer-derived NSCLC cell lines by RNA interference (RNAi). We observed that the targeted inhibition of livin strongly sensitized NSCLC cells to different pro-apoptotic stimuli, such as UV-irradiation or the chemotherapeutic drug etoposide. In addition, long-term silencing of livin blocked the outgrowth of NSCLC cells in colony formation assays. These effects of small interfering (si)RNA were specific for livin-expressing tumor cells. Our results indicate that Livin is an important contributor to the apoptosis resistance of NSCLC cells and may serve as a novel molecular target for therapeutic inhibition in NSCLC.