We explored the involvement of the muscles-pecific intermediate filament protein desmin in the model of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α)-induced cardiomyopathy. We demonstrate that in mice overexpressing TNF-α in the heart (α-myosin heavy chain promoter-driven secretable TNF-α [MHCsTNF]), desmin is modified, loses its intercalated disk (ID) localization, and forms aggregates that colocalize with heat shock protein 25 and ubiquitin. Additionally, other ID proteins such as desmoplakin and β-catenin show similar localization changes in a desmin-dependent fashion. To address underlying mechanisms, we examined whether desmin is a substrate for caspase-6 in vivo as well as the implications of desmin cleavage in MHCsTNF mice. We generated transgenic mice with cardiac-restricted expression of a desmin mutant (D263E) and proved that it is resistant to caspase cleavage in the MHCsTNF myocardium. The aggregates are diminished in these mice, and D263E desmin, desmoplakin, and β-catenin largely retain their proper ID localization. Importantly, D263E desmin expression attenuated cardiomyocyte apoptosis, prevented left ventricular wall thinning, and improved the function of MHCsTNF hearts.