Telomerase is a ribonucleoprotein whose activity has been detected in germline cells and in neoplastic and immortal cells. Telomerase compensates the telomere loss arising by the end replication problem by synthesizing telomeric repeats at the 3' end of the eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomerase is reactivated during cancer progression in human and mice. In order to determine whether the telomerase activity can be upregulated in vitro in response to DNA damaging agents, we examined the telomerase activity in five Chinese hamster cell lines following exposure to 5 J/m2 or 40 J/m2 UV-C radiation. All the cell lines tested showed an increase in telomerase activity in the PCR-based telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) in a dose dependent manner. This increase in telomerase activity correlated well with the number of cells being in the S and G2/M phase after UV exposure. However, in unirradiated control cells, similar levels of telomerase activity were observed in different phases of the cell cycle. Furthermore, telomeric signals were clustered in one or more parts of the disintegrating nuclear particles of the apoptotic cell as detected by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). This is the first study to demonstrate the induction of telomerase activity following exposure to DNA-damaging agents like UV radiation in Chinese hamster cells in vitro.