Besides its role in glycolysis, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) initiates a cell death cascade. Diverse apoptotic stimuli activate inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) or neuronal NOS (nNOS), with the generated nitric oxide (NO) S-nitrosylating GAPDH, abolishing its catalytic activity and conferring on it the ability to bind to Siah1, an E3-ubiquitin-ligase with a nuclear localization signal (NLS). The GAPDH-Siah1 protein complex, in turn, translocates to the nucleus and mediates cell death; these processes are blocked by procedures that interfere with GAPDH-Siah1 binding. Nuclear events induced by GAPDH to kill cells have been obscure. Here we show that nuclear GAPDH is acetylated at Lys 160 by the acetyltransferase p300/CREB binding protein (CBP) through direct protein interaction, which in turn stimulates the acetylation and catalytic activity of p300/CBP. Consequently, downstream targets of p300/CBP, such as p53 (Refs 10,11,12,13,14,15), are activated and cause cell death. A dominant-negative mutant GAPDH with the substitution of Lys 160 to Arg (GAPDH-K160R) prevents activation of p300/CBP, blocks induction of apoptotic genes and decreases cell death. Our findings reveal a pathway in which NO-induced nuclear GAPDH mediates cell death through p300/CBP.