p53 mutations are found in about 70% of human cancers. In order to evaluate the role of these mutations in response to chemotherapeutic agents, it is important to distinguish between p53 response to DNA-damaging agents in normal and in tumour cells. Here, using normal human fibroblasts (NHFs), we show that cisplatin and UV radiation induce G2/M arrest which is temporally linked to p53-protein induction. To study the contribution of p53 to this G2/M arrest, we inhibited p53 induction in NHFs using p53 anti-sense oligonucleotides. Following exposure of NHFs to UV radiation, the inhibition of p53-protein induction leads to a greater accumulation of cells in the G2/M phase, but also to a decreased fraction of cells in the G1 phase. We propose that p53 does not induce G2/M arrest directly, and that the extent of this arrest may depend on the fraction of cells that do not stop at the G1 phase following exposure to DNA-damaging agents. Furthermore, inhibition of p53-protein induction leads to increased sensitivity of NHFs to UV radiation. These results suggest that inhibition of p53 protein enhances sensitivity to DNA-damaging agents in normal human cells.