In concert with the ubiquitin (Ub) proteasome system (UPS) the COP9 signalosome (CSN) controls the stability of cellular regulators. The CSN interacts with cullin-RING Ub ligases (CRLs) consisting of a specific cullin, a RING protein as Rbx1 and substrate recognition proteins. The Ub-like protein Nedd8 is covalently linked to cullins and removed by the CSN-mediated deneddylation. Cycles of neddylation and deneddylation regulate CRLs. Apoptotic stimuli cause caspase-dependent modifications of the UPS. However, little is known about the CSN during apoptosis. We demonstrate in vitro and in vivo that CSN6 is cleaved most effectively by caspase 3 at D23 after 2-3 h of apoptosis induced by anti-Fas-Ab or etoposide. CSN6 processing occurs in CSN-CRL complexes and is followed by the cleavage of Rbx1, the direct interaction partner of CSN6. Caspase-dependent cutting of Rbx1 is accompanied by decrease of neddylated proteins in Jurkat T cells. Another functional consequence of CSN6 cleavage is the enhancement of CSN-mediated deneddylating activity causing deneddylation of cullin 1 in cells. The CSN-associated deubiquitinating as well as kinase activity remained unchanged in presence of active caspase 3. The cleavage of Rbx1 and increased deneddylation of cullins inactivate CRLs and presumably stabilize pro-apoptotic factors for final apoptotic steps.