Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) is a transcription factor important in fat metabolism and PPAR-γ agonists were recently demonstrated to affect proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of different cell types. In the present study, two PPAR-γ agonists, 15-deoxy-delta (12,14)-prostaglandin J2 (15d-PGJ2) and a synthetic PPAR-γ agonist troglitazone (TGZ), were used to investigate activated PPAR-γ-induced apoptosis on human monocyte leukemia U937 and Mono Mac 6 cells in vitro. The results showed that both U937 and Mono Mac 6 cells demonstrated constitutive activation of COX-2 expression; treatment by 15d-PGJ2 and TGZ could induce apoptosis remarkably in human monocyte leukemia cells by disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, activation of caspase-3, and causing cleavage of the caspase substrate poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). Further studies revealed that treatment by both 15d-PGJ2 and TGZ remarkably downregulated COX-2 expression in these two kind of monocyte leukemia cells as measured by reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) and Western blot. Furthermore, the expression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-Xl and Mcl-1 was downregulated while Bax expression was upregulated concurrently after the cells were treated by these two agonists, and no variations were found in other Bcl-2 family members such as Bak, Bid, and Bad. Taken together, our results demonstrate for the first time that downregulation of cyclooxygenase-2 expression, disruption of mitochondrial membrane potential, activation of caspase-3, downregulation of Bcl-2, Bcl-Xl, and Mcl-1, and upregulation of Bax are involved in PPAR-γ agonists-induced apoptosis in these two human monocyte leukemia cells.