Synoviocyte hyperplasia is critical for rheumatoid arthritis, therefore, potentially an important target for therapeutics. It was found in this work that a TRPV1 agonist capsaicin, and acidic solution (pH 5.5) induced increases in cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](c)) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in synoviocytes isolated from a rat model of collagen-induced arthritis. The increases in both [Ca(2+)](c) and ROS production were completely abolished in calcium-free buffer or by a TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine. Further experiments revealed that capsaicin and pH 5.5 solution caused mitochondrial membrane depolarization and reduction in cell viability; such effects were inhibited by capsazepine, or the NAD(P)H oxidase inhibitor diphenylene iodonium. Both capsaicin and pH 5.5 buffer induced apoptosis as shown by nuclear condensation and fragmentation. Furthermore, RT-PCR readily detected TRPV1 mRNA expression in the isolated synoviocytes. Taken together, these data indicated that TRPV1 activation triggered synoviocyte death by [Ca(2+)](c) elevation, ROS production, and mitochondrial membrane depolarization.