Melanoma represents the most serious type of skin cancer. Although recent years have seen advances using targeted and immunotherapies, most patients remain at high risk for tumor recurrence. Here we show that IRAK-M, a negative regulator of MyD88 signaling, is deficient or low in melanoma and expression levels correlate with patient survival. Inducing IRAK-M expression using genetic approaches or epigenetic modifiers initiates apoptosis by prompting its interaction with TRAF6 via IRAK-M's C-terminal domain. This complex recruits and degrades calpastatin which stimulates calpain activity and triggers caspase-3-dependent but caspase-8,-9-independent apoptosis. Using a drug screen, we identified compounds that induced IRAK-M expression. Administration of IRAK-M-inducing drugs reduced tumor growth in mice but was ineffective against IRAK-M knock-down tumors. These results uncover a previously uncharacterized apoptosis pathway, emphasize IRAK-M as a potential therapeutic target and suggest that the anticancer activity of certain drugs could do so through their ability to induce IRAK-M expression.