p63 is distinct from its homologue p53 in that its role as a tumour suppressor is controversial, an issue complicated by the existence of two classes of p63 isoforms. Here we show that TAp63 isoforms are robust mediators of senescence that inhibit tumorigenesis in vivo. Whereas gain of TAp63 induces senescence, loss of p63 enhances sarcoma development in mice lacking p53. Using a new TAp63-specific conditional mouse model, we demonstrate that TAp63 isoforms are essential for Ras-induced senescence, and that TAp63 deficiency increases proliferation and enhances Ras-mediated oncogenesis in the context of p53 deficiency in vivo. TAp63 induces senescence independently of p53, p19(Arf) and p16(Ink4a), but requires p21(Waf/Cip1) and Rb. TAp63-mediated senescence overrides Ras-driven transformation of p53-deficient cells, preventing tumour initiation, and doxycycline-regulated expression of TAp63 activates p21(Waf/Cip1), induces senescence and inhibits progression of established tumours in vivo. Our findings demonstrate that TAp63 isoforms function as tumour suppressors by regulating senescence through p53-independent pathways. The ability of TAp63 to trigger senescence and halt tumorigenesis irrespective of p53 status identifies TAp63 as a potential target of anti-cancer therapy for human malignancies with compromised p53.