Cell survival signaling is important for the malignant phenotypes of cancer cells. Although the role of receptor-interacting protein 1 (RIP1) in cell survival signaling is well documented, whether RIP1 is directly involved in cancer development has never been studied. In this report, we found that RIP1 expression is substantially increased in human non-small cell lung cancer and mouse lung tumor tissues. RIP1 expression was remarkably increased in cigarette smoke-exposed mouse lung. In human bronchial epithelial cells (HBECs), RIP1 was significantly induced by cigarette smoke extract or benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE), the active form of the tobacco-specific carcinogen benzo(a)pyrene. In RIP1 knockdown HBECs, BPDE-induced cytotoxicity was significantly increased, which was associated with induction of cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), including c-jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and p38. Scavenging ROS suppressed BPDE-induced MAPK activation and inhibiting ROS or MAPKs substantially blocked BPDE-induced cytotoxicity, suggesting ROS-mediated MAPK activation is involved in BPDE-induced cell death. The ROS-reducing enzyme catalase is destabilized in an ERK- and JNK-dependent manner in RIP1 knockdown HBECs and application of catalase effectively blocked BPDE-induced ROS accumulation and cytotoxicity. Importantly, BPDE-induced transformation of HBECs was significantly reduced when RIP1 expression was suppressed. Altogether, these results strongly suggest an oncogenic role for RIP1, which promotes malignant transformation through protecting DNA-damaged cells against carcinogen-induced cytotoxicity associated with excessive ROS production.