p53 is one of the most mutated tumor suppressors in human cancers and as such has been intensively studied for a long time. p53 is a major orchestrator of the cellular response to a broad array of stress types by regulating apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, senescence, DNA repair and genetic stability. For a long time it was thought that these functions of p53 solely rely on its function as a transcription factor, and numerous p53 target genes have been identified . In the last 8 years however, a novel transcription-independent proapoptotic function mediated by the cytoplasmic pool of p53 has been revealed. p53 participates directly in the intrinsic apoptosis pathway by interacting with the multidomain members of the Bcl-2 family to induce mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization. Our review will discuss these studies, focusing on recent advances in the field.