The expression and function of the newly identified Bcl-2- and Raf-1- binding protein, Bag-1, during the cytokine-regulated growth of B and T cell lines was examined. Immunoblot analysis of lysates from the interleukin-3 (IL-3)-dependent B cell line Ba/F3, and the PRL-dependent T cell line Nb2, revealed that variations in Bag-1 levels paralleled alterations in cellular proliferation, viability, and apoptosis induced by the presence or absence of growth factor. To test whether up-regulation of Bag-1 levels altered cellular survival and proliferation, Ba/F3 cells were transfected with a Bag-1 expression construct. The overexpression of Bag-1 in transfected Ba/F3 cells induced an IL-3-independent state. Such transfectants demonstrated sustained viability and proliferation, with minimal apoptosis, in the complete absence of exogenous IL-3. Bag-1 expression was also compared in glucocorticoid-sensitive Nb2 cells and a PRL-independent, glucocorticoid-resistant subline, SFJCD1, during culture of these lines in dexamethasone (Dex). Bag-1 levels were profoundly decreased by the addition of Dex to Nb2 cells, precedent to the onset of apoptotic cell death. In contrast, Dex treatment or PRL withdrawal had no effect on levels of Bag-1 within the SFJCD1 line. These findings establish that the overexpression of Bag-1 in the appropriate cellular context promotes cellular survival and growth, events that may result from the juxtaposition of this protein with mitogenic and antiapoptotic signaling pathways.