There has been a great concern about the neurotoxicity of fluoride since it can pass through the blood-brain barrier and accumulate in the brain. It has been suggested that apoptosis plays a vital role in neurotoxicity of fluoride. However, whether p53-mediated apoptotic pathway is involved is still unclear. Our results showed that apoptosis was induced after treatment with 40 and 60mg/L of NaF for 24h in human neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells. Exposure to 60mg/L of NaF for 24h significantly upregulated the levels of p53 and apoptosis-related proteins including PUMA, cytochrome c (cyto c), cleaved caspase-3 and cleaved PARP, whereas downregulated Bcl-2 in SH-SY5Y cells. Meanwhile, fluoride increased p53 nuclear translocation, cyto c release from mitochondria to cytoplasm and mitochondrial translocation of Bax in SH-SY5Y cells. Fluoride-induced increases of apoptotic rates and apoptosis-related protein levels were significantly attenuated by inhibiting p53 transcriptional activity with pifithrin-α. In addition, fluoride inhibited the deacetylase activity of SIRT1 and increased p53 (acetyl K382) level in SH-SY5Y cells. Apoptosis and upregulation of cleaved caspase-3, cleaved PARP and p53 (acetyl K382) induced by fluoride could be ameliorated by SIRT1 overexpression or its activator resveratrol in SH-SY5Y cells. Taken together, our study demonstrates that fluoride induces apoptosis by inhibiting the deacetylase activity of SIRT1 to activate mitochondrial p53 pathway in SH-SY5Y cells, which depends on p53 transcriptional activity. Thus, SIRT1 may be a promising target to protect against neurotoxicity induced by fluoride.