Prior studies have noted that inhibitors of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) kinase 1/2 (MEK1/2) enhanced geldanamycin lethality in malignant hematopoietic cells by promoting mitochondrial dysfunction. The present studies focused on defining the mechanism(s) by which these agents altered survival in carcinoma cells. MEK1/2 inhibitors [PD184352; AZD6244 (ARRY-142886)] interacted in a synergistic manner with geldanamycins [17-allylamino-17- demethoxygeldanamycin (17AAG) and 17-dimethylaminoethylamino-17-demethoxy- geldanamycin] to kill hepatoma and pancreatic carcinoma cells that correlated with inactivation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 and AKT and with activation of p38 MAPK; p38 MAPK activation was reactive oxygen species dependent. Treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG reduced expression of c-FLIP-s that was mechanistically connected to loss of MEK1/2 and AKT function; inhibition of caspase-8 or overexpression of c-FLIP-s abolished cell killing by MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG. Treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG caused a p38 MAPK-dependent plasma membrane clustering of CD95 without altering the levels or cleavage of FAS ligand. In parallel, treatment of cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG caused a p38 MAPK-dependent association of caspase-8 with CD95. Inhibition of p38 MAPK or knockdown of BID, FAS-associated death domain, or CD95 expression suppressed MEK1/2 inhibitor and 17AAG lethality. Similar correlative data were obtained using a xenograft flank tumor model system. Our data show that treatment of tumor cells with MEK1/2 inhibitors and 17AAG induces activation of the extrinsic pathway and that suppression of c-FLIP-s expression is crucial in transduction of the apoptotic signal from CD95 to promote cell death.