Aberrant Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling is one of the most prevalent oncogenic alterations and confers survival advantage to tumor cells. Inhibition of this pathway can effectively suppress tumor cell growth. For example, sorafenib, a multi-kinase inhibitor targeting c-Raf and other oncogenic kinases, has been used clinically for treating advanced liver and kidney tumors, and also has shown efficacy against other malignancies. However, how inhibition of oncogenic signaling by sorafenib and other drugs suppresses tumor cell growth remains unclear. In this study, we found that sorafenib kills cancer cells by activating PUMA (p53-upregulated modulator of apoptosis), a p53 target and a BH3-only Bcl-2 family protein. Sorafenib treatment induces PUMA in a variety of cancer cells irrespective of their p53 status. Surprisingly, the induction of PUMA by sorafenib is mediated by IκB-independent activation of nuclear factor (NF)-κB, which directly binds to the PUMA promoter to activate its transcription. NF-κB activation by sorafenib requires glycogen synthase kinase 3β activation, subsequent to ERK inhibition. Deficiency in PUMA abrogates sorafenib-induced apoptosis and caspase activation, and renders sorafenib resistance in colony formation and xenograft tumor assays. Furthermore, the chemosensitization effect of sorafenib is dependent on PUMA, and involves concurrent PUMA induction through different pathways. BH3 mimetics potentiate the anti-cancer effects of sorafenib, and restore sorafenib sensitivity in resistant cells. Together, these results demonstrate a key role of PUMA-dependent apoptosis in therapeutic inhibition of Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK signaling. They provide a rationale for manipulating the apoptotic machinery to improve sensitivity and overcome resistance to the therapies that target oncogenic kinase signaling.