Death ligands not only activate a death program but also regulate inflammatory signalling pathways, for example, through NF-kappaB induction. Although tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) and TNF both activate NF-kappaB in human keratinocytes, only TRAIL potently induces apoptosis. However, when induction of NF-kappaB was inhibited with a kinase dead IKK2 mutant (IKK2-KD), TNF- but not TRAIL-induced apoptosis was dramatically enhanced. Acquired susceptibility to TNF-induced apoptosis was due to increased caspase-8 activation. To investigate the mechanism of resistance of HaCaT keratinocytes to TNF-induced apoptosis, we analyzed a panel of NF-kappaB-regulated effector molecules. Interestingly, the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family member cIAP2, but not cIAP1, X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis, TNF receptor-associated factor (TRAF)-1, or TRAF2, was downregulated in sensitive but not in resistant HaCaT keratinocytes. Surprisingly, however, stable inducible expression of cIAP2 was not sufficient to render IKK2-KD-sensitized keratinocytes resistant to TNF, and reduction of cIAP2 alone did not increase the sensitivity of HaCaT keratinocytes to TNF. In conclusion, we demonstrate that inhibition of NF-kappaB dramatically sensitizes human keratinocytes to TNF- but not to TRAIL-induced apoptosis and that this sensitization for TNF was largely independent of cIAP2. Our data thus clearly exclude the candidates proposed to date to confer TNF apoptosis resistance and suggest the function of an unanticipated effector of NF-kappaB critical for the survival of HaCaT keratinocytes upstream or at the level of caspase-8 activation.