In this study, we examined the role of protein kinase C (PKC)-epsilon in the apoptosis and survival of glioma cells using tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL)-stimulated cells and silencing of PKCepsilon expression. Treatment of glioma cells with TRAIL induced activation, caspase-dependent cleavage, and down-regulation of PKCepsilon within 3 to 5 hours of treatment. Overexpression of PKCepsilon inhibited the apoptosis induced by TRAIL, acting downstream of caspase 8 and upstream of Bid cleavage and cytochrome c release from the mitochondria. A caspase-resistant PKCepsilon mutant (D383A) was more protective than PKCepsilon, suggesting that both the cleavage of PKCepsilon and its down-regulation contributed to the apoptotic effect of TRAIL. To further study the role of PKCepsilon in glioma cell apoptosis, we employed short interfering RNAs directed against the mRNA of PKCepsilon and found that silencing of PKCepsilon expression induced apoptosis of various glioma cell lines and primary glioma cultures. To delineate the molecular mechanisms involved in the apoptosis induced by silencing of PKCepsilon, we examined the expression and phosphorylation of various apoptosis-related proteins. We found that knockdown of PKCepsilon did not affect the expression of Bcl2 and Bax or the phosphorylation and expression of Erk1/2, c-Jun-NH2-kinase, p38, or STAT, whereas it selectively reduced the expression of AKT. Similarly, TRAIL reduced the expression of AKT in glioma cells and this decrease was abolished in cells overexpressing PKCepsilon. Our results suggest that the cleavage of PKCepsilon and its down-regulation play important roles in the apoptotic effect of TRAIL. Moreover, PKCepsilon regulates AKT expression and is essential for the survival of glioma cells.