Tetraspanin protein CD151 has typically been studied as binding partner and functional regulator of laminin-binding integrins. However, we show here that CD151 supports anti-cancer drug resistance independent of integrins. CD151 ablation sensitized multiple tumor cell types to several anti-cancer drugs (e.g., gefitinib and camptothecin), thus increasing apoptosis, as seen using cleaved caspase-3, cleaved PARP (poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase), annexin V, and propidium iodide staining assays. Drug sensitization due to CD151 ablation is integrin-independent, because, (1) effects occurred in cells when integrins were unengaged with ligand, (2) integrin ablation (α3 and α6 subunits) did not mimic effects of CD151 ablation, (3) the CD151 QRD mutant, with diminished integrin association, and CD151 WT (unmutated CD151) similarly reconstituted drug protection, and (4) treatment with anti-cancer drugs selectively upregulated intracellular nonintegrin-associated CD151 (NIA-CD151), consistent with its role in drug resistance. Together, these results suggest that upregulated CD151 expression may support not only typical integrin-dependent functions, but also integrin-independent survival of circulating (and possibly metastatic) cancer cells during anti-cancer drug therapy.