We have previously shown that the androgen-independent prostate cancer cells DU145, despite expressing Fas and FasL, were resistant to anti-Fas-induced apoptosis, and that this resistance could be overcome by pretreating the cells with sublethal doses of camptothecin. Here, we provide evidence that SAPK/JNK activity is required for camptothecin sensitization to anti-Fas-induced apoptosis. Camptothecin, but not Fas ligation, was shown to activate SAPK/JNK in a time-dependent manner, and to induce c-Jun expression. The effects were more prominent in cells treated with both camptothecin and anti-Fas. The expression levels of MKP-1, a phosphatase which regulates SAPK/JNK and which has been implicated in prostate cancer resistance to apoptosis, remained unchanged. Inhibition of caspases had no effect on the SAPK/JNK activation, suggesting that this activation is an upstream event in the Fas-signalling pathway, and is independent of caspase activity. Antisense oligonucleotides targeted to JNK1 and JNK2 reversed the effect of camptothecin. These results suggest that stress kinase activation can significantly influence the fate of androgen-independent prostate cancer cells following Fas receptor ligation.