Tumor suppressor p53 transcriptionally regulates hundreds of genes involved in various cellular functions. However, the detailed mechanisms underlying the selection of p53 targets in response to different stresses are still elusive. Here, we identify TFIIS.h, a transcription elongation factor, as a new transcriptional target of p53, and also show that it can enhance the efficiency of transcription elongation of apoptosis-associated bax gene, but not cell cycle-associated p21 (CDKN1A) gene. TFIIS.h is revealed as a p53 target through microarray analysis of RNAs extracted from cells treated with or without inauhzin (INZ), a p53 activator, and further confirmed by RT-q-PCR, western blot, luciferase reporter, and ChIP assays. Interestingly, knocking down TFIIS.h impairs, but overexpressing TFIIS.h promotes, induction of bax, but not other p53 targets including p21, by p53 activation. In addition, overexpression of TFIIS.h induces cell death in a bax- dependent fashion. These findings reveal a mechanism by which p53 utilizes TFIIS.h to selectively promote the transcriptional elongation of the bax gene, upsurging cell death in response to severe DNA damage.