Since anti-apoptotic effect of ERK has not been elucidated clearly in DNA-damage-induced cell death, the role of ERK was examined in normal HEF cells treated with mild DNA damage using etoposide or camptothecin. ERK was activated by DNA damage in HEF cells. PD98059 increased apoptosis and reduced DNA-damageinduced p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi level. Depletion of p21 Waf1/Cip1/Sdi induced cell death and PD98059 induced additional cell death. DNA-damage-induced increase in cytoplasmic localization and phosphorylation of threonine residues of p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi was reversed by PD98059. Thus, the results suggest that ERK pathway mediates anti-apoptotic effects through phosphorylation and cytoplasmic localization of p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi in response to mild DNA damage.