Although the BCR/ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib is highly effective for treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Philadelphia-chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), relapse with emerging imatinib-resistance mutations in the BCR/ABL kinase domain poses a significant problem. Here, we demonstrate that rottlerin, a putative protein kinase C-delta (PKCdelta)-specific inhibitor, acts synergistically with imatinib to induce apoptosis of BCR/ABL-expressing K562 and Ton.B210 cells. However, rottlerin inhibited neither PKCdelta nor BCR/ABL in these cells. On the other hand, rottlerin, previously characterized also as a mitochondrial uncoupler, transiently but significantly reduced mitochondrial membrane potential and gradually induced mitochondrial membrane permeabilization. Moreover, two other mitochondrial uncouplers, FCCP and DNP, very similarly induced apoptosis of BCR/ABL-expressing cells in a synergistic manner with imatinib. Imatinib synergistically enhanced mitochondrial membrane permeabilization induced by mitochondrial uncouplers, which led to release of cytochrome c into the cytoplasm and activation of caspases-3 and -9. Rottlerin also enhanced the cytotoxic effect of imatinib in leukemic cells from patients with CML blast crisis and Ph-positive ALL or a cell line expressing the imatinib-resistant E255K BCR/ABL mutant. The present study indicates that rottlerin synergistically enhances imatinib-induced apoptosis through its mitochondrial uncoupling effect independent of PKCdelta and may contribute to the development of new treatment strategy to overcome the imatinib resistance and to cure the BCR/ABL expressing leukemias.