High dietary intakes and high blood levels of β-carotene are associated with a decreased incidence of various cancers. The anticancer effect of β-carotene is related to its pro-oxidant activity. DNA repair Ku proteins, as a heterodimer of Ku70 and Ku80, play a crucial role in DNA double-strand break repair. Reductions in Ku70/80 contribute to apoptosis. Previously, we showed that reactive oxygen species (ROS) activate caspase-3 which induces degradation of Ku proteins. In the present study, we investigated the mechanism of β-carotene-induced apoptosis of gastric cancer AGS cells by determining cell viability, DNA fragmentation, apoptotic indices (increases in cytochrome c and Bax, decrease in Bcl-2), ROS levels, mitochondrial membrane potential, caspase-3 activity, Ku70/80 levels, and Ku-DNA-binding activity of the cells treated with or without antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine and caspase-3 inhibitor z-DEVED-fmk. As a result, β-carotene induced apoptosis (decrease in cell viability, increases in DNA fragmentation and apoptotic indices) and caspase-3 activation, but decreased Ku70/80 levels and Ku-DNA-binding activity. β-Carotene-induced alterations (increase in caspase-3 activity, decrease in Ku proteins) and apoptosis were inhibited by N-acetyl cysteine and z-DEVED-fmk. Increment of intracellular and mitochondrial ROS levels and loss of mitochondrial membrane potential were suppressed by N-acetyl cysteine, but not by z-DEVED-fmk in β-carotene-treated cells. Therefore, β-carotene-induced increases in ROS and caspase-3 activity may lead to reduction of Ku70/80 levels, which results in apoptosis in gastric cancer cells. Loss of Ku proteins might be the underlying mechanism for β-carotene-induced apoptosis in gastric cancer cells.