Elk-1, an ets related gene codes for at least two splice variants Elk-1, which regulates c-fos transcription and deltaElk-1, both of which function as transcriptional activators. To investigate the role of Elk-1 and deltaElk-1 proteins in apoptosis; we have developed rat fibroblast cell lines and human breast cancer cell lines expressing Elk-1 and deltaElk-1. The expression of Elk-1 and deltaElk-1 proteins in the Elk-1/deltaElk-1 transfectants were analysed by immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, and Western blot analysis. The Elk-1 unlike deltaElk-1 transfectants showed a shortened and flattened morphology compared to the parental cells. We have found that calcium ionophore treatment of Rat-1 Elk-1, MCF-7 Elk-1, Rat-1 deltaElk-1 and MCF-7 deltaElk-1 transfectants resulted in programmed cell death. These results indicate that constitutive expression of Elk-1 and deltaElk-1 proteins triggers apoptosis in Rat-1 fibroblasts and breast cancer cells when treated with calcium ionophore.