Mitochondrial alterations have been associated with the cytotoxic effect of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA), a widely used neurotoxin to study Parkinson's disease. Herein we studied the potential effects of 6-OHDA on mitochondrial morphology in SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells. By immunofluorescence and time-lapse fluorescence microscopy we demonstrated that 6-OHDA induced profound mitochondrial fragmentation in SH-SY5Y cells, an event that was similar to mitochondrial fission induced by overexpression of Fis1p, a membrane adaptor for the dynamin-related protein 1 (DLP1/Drp1). 6-OHDA failed to induce any changes in peroxisome morphology. Biochemical experiments revealed that 6-OHDA-induced mitochondrial fragmentation is an early event preceding the collapse of the mitochondrial membrane potential and cytochrome c release in SH-SY5Y cells. Silencing of DLP1/Drp1, which is involved in mitochondrial and peroxisomal fission, prevented 6-OHDA-induced fragmentation of mitochondria. Furthermore, in cells silenced for Drp1, 6-OHDA-induced cell death was reduced, indicating that a block in mitochondrial fission protects SH-SY5Y cells against 6-OHDA toxicity. Experiments in mouse embryonic fibroblasts deficient in Bax or p53 revealed that both proteins are not essential for 6-OHDA-induced mitochondrial fragmentation. Our data demonstrate for the first time an involvement of mitochondrial fragmentation and Drp1 function in 6-OHDA-induced apoptosis.