The caspase family of proteases plays a critical role in the execution of apoptosis. However, efforts to decipher the molecular mechanisms by which caspases induce cell death have been greatly hindered by the lack of systematic and broadly applicable strategies to identify their substrates. Here we describe a novel expression cloning strategy to rapidly isolate cDNAs encoding caspase substrates that are cleaved during apoptosis. Small cDNA pools (approximately 100 clones each) are transcribed/translated in vitro in the presence of [35S]methionine; these labeled protein pools are then incubated with cytosolic extracts from control and apoptotic cells. cDNA pools encoding proteins that are specifically cleaved by the apoptotic extract and whose cleavage is prevented by the caspase inhibitor acetyl-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp chloromethylketone are subdivided and retested until a single cDNA is isolated. Using this approach, we isolated a partial cDNA encoding protein kinase C-related kinase 2 (PRK2), a serine-threonine kinase, and demonstrate that full-length human PRK2 is proteolyzed by caspase-3 at Asp117 and Asp700 in vitro. In addition, PRK2 is cleaved rapidly during Fas- and staurosporine-induced apoptosis in vivo by caspase-3 or a closely related caspase. Both of the major apoptotic cleavage sites of PRK2 in vivo lie within its regulatory domain, suggesting that its activity may be deregulated by proteolysis.