Exposure to chemotherapeutic agents has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), a disease characterized by both the peripheral insulin resistance and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) from pancreatic β-cells. Using the rat β-cell line INS-1 832/13 and isolated mouse pancreatic islets, we investigated the effect of the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin (Adriamycin) on pancreatic β-cell survival and function. Exposure of INS-1 832/13 cells to doxorubicin caused impairment of GSIS, cellular viability, an increase in cellular toxicity, as soon as 6 h post-exposure. Doxorubicin impaired plasma membrane electron transport (PMET), a pathway dependent on reduced equivalents NADH and NADPH, but failed to redox cycle in INS-1 832/13 cells and with their lysates. Although NADPH/NADP+ content was unaffected, NADH/NAD+ content decreased at 4 h post-exposure to doxorubicin, and was followed by a reduction in ATP content. Previous studies have demonstrated that doxorubicin functions as a topoisomerase II inhibitor via induction of DNA cross-linking, resulting in apoptosis. Doxorubicin induced the expression of mRNA for mdm2, cyclin G1, and fas whereas downregulating p53, and increased the melting temperature of genomic DNA, consistent with DNA damage and induction of apoptosis. Doxorubicin also induced caspase-3 and -7 activity in INS-1 832/13 cells and mouse islets; co-treatment with the pan-caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-FMK temporarily attenuated the doxorubicin-mediated loss of viability in INS-1 832/13 cells. Together, these data suggest that DNA damage, not H2O2 produced via redox cycling, is a major mechanism of doxorubicin toxicity in pancreatic β-cells.