Oncogenic c-Myc renders cells sensitive to TRAIL-induced apoptosis, and existing data suggest that c-Myc sensitizes cells to apoptosis by promoting activation of the mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. However, the molecular mechanisms linking the mitochondrial effects of c-Myc to the c-Myc-dependent sensitization to TRAIL have remained unresolved. Here, we show that TRAIL induces a weak activation of procaspase-8 but fails to activate mitochondrial proapoptotic effectors Bax and Bak, cytochrome c release or downstream effector caspase-3 in non-transformed human fibroblasts or mammary epithelial cells. Our data is consistent with the model that activation of oncogenic c-Myc primes mitochondria through a mechanism involving activation of Bak and this priming enables weak TRAIL-induced caspase-8 signals to activate Bax. This results in cytochrome c release, activation of downstream caspases and postmitochondrial death-inducing signaling complex -independent augmentation of caspase-8-Bid activity. In conclusion, c-Myc-dependent priming of the mitochondrial pathway is critical for the capacity of TRAIL-induced caspase-8 signals to activate effector caspases and for the establishment of lethal caspase feedback amplification loop in human cells.