DNA damage in eukaryotic cells induces signaling pathways mediated by the ATM, p53 and ERK proteins, but the interactions between these pathways are not completely known. To address this issue, we performed a time course analysis in human embryonic fibroblast cells treated with DNA-damaging agents. DNA damage induced the phosphorylation of p53 at Ser 15 (p-p53) and the phosphorylation of ERK (p-ERK). Inhibition of p53 by a dominant negative mutant or in p53 -/- fibroblast cells abolished ERK phosphorylation. ERK inhibitor prevented p53 phosphorylation, indicating that phosphorylations of p53 and p-ERK are interdependent each other. A time course analysis showed that ATM interacted with p-p53 and p-ERK in early time (0.5 h) and interaction between ATM-bound p-p53 and p-ERK or ATM-bound p-ERK and p-p53 occurred in late time (3 h) of DNA damage. These results indicate that ATM mediates interdependent activation of p53 and ERK through formation of a ternary complex between p-p53 and p-ERK in response to DNA damage to cause growth arrest.