Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) binding to the TNF receptor (TNFR) potentially initiates apoptosis and activates the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB), which suppresses apoptosis by an unknown mechanism. The activation of NF-kappaB was found to block the activation of caspase-8. TRAF1 (TNFR-associated factor 1), TRAF2, and the inhibitor-of-apoptosis (IAP) proteins c-IAP1 and c-IAP2 were identified as gene targets of NF-kappaB transcriptional activity. In cells in which NF-kappaB was inactive, all of these proteins were required to fully suppress TNF-induced apoptosis, whereas c-IAP1 and c-IAP2 were sufficient to suppress etoposide-induced apoptosis. Thus, NF-kappaB activates a group of gene products that function cooperatively at the earliest checkpoint to suppress TNF-alpha-mediated apoptosis and that function more distally to suppress genotoxic agent-mediated apoptosis.