Apoptosis can be induced by various stimuli such as the ligands of death receptors, chemotherapeutic drugs and irradiation. It is generally believed that chemotherapeutic drugs induce mitochondrial damage, cytochrome c release and activation of caspase-9, leading to apoptosis. Here, we found that an isoprenoid antibiotic, 4-O-methyl ascochlorin, significantly induces typical apoptotic events in Jurkat cells including the degradation of poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase, DNA fragmentation, activation of caspase-3, -9 and -8, and cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Similar to Fas stimulation, 4-O-methyl ascochlorin but not staurosporine, cycloheximide and actinomycin D, induced apoptosis in SKW6.4 cells, in which apoptosis is strongly dependent on death-inducing signaling-complex. Bcl-2 overexpression in Jurkat cells completely suppressed the apoptosis, but procaspase-9 processing was partially induced. A caspase-8 inhibitor, IETD-fmk, effectively suppressed poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and cytochrome c release. However, 4-O-methyl ascochlorin induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells deficient of caspase-8 or Fas-associated death domain protein. These results suggest that 4-O-methyl ascochlorin induces apoptosis through the mechanism distinct from conventional apoptosis inducers.