Gastrins, including amidated gastrin (Gamide) and glycine-extended gastrin (Ggly), are known to accelerate the growth of gastric and colorectal cancer cells by stimulation of proliferation and inhibition of apoptosis. Gamide controls apoptosis by regulation of proteins of the Bcl-2 family and by regulation of the activation of caspases. However the interactions between Ggly and proteins of the Bcl-2 family and caspases are not known. Since in other systems G proteins of the Rho family inhibit apoptosis via interaction with proteins of the Bcl-2 family, leading to changes in caspase activities, we have compared the role of Rho family G proteins in regulation of Bcl-2-like (Bad/Bax/Bcl-xl) protein expression and caspase 3 activation by Ggly and Gamide. The effects of the specific inhibitors C3 (for Rho) and Y-27632 (for ROCK), and of dominant negative mutants of Rac, Cdc42 and PAK, were investigated in the gastric epithelial cell line IMGE-5. Apoptosis was induced by serum starvation and confirmed by annexin V staining and caspase 3 activation. Ggly inhibits caspase 3 activation via a Bcl-2-like protein-mediated pathway which requires activation of both Rho/ROCK and Rac/Cdc42/PAK. Gamide inhibits caspase 3 activation via redundant Bcl-2-like protein-mediated pathways which involve alternative activation of Rac/Cdc42/PAK and Rho/ROCK. Gamide and Ggly differentially activate members of Rho family G proteins which in turn regulate different proteins of the Bcl-2 family leading to changes in caspase 3 activity. The findings offer potential targets for blocking the growth-stimulating effects of these gastrins.