Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase, a chimeric oncoprotein responsible for chronic myelogenous leukemia, constitutively activates several signal transduction pathways that stimulate cell proliferation and prevent apoptosis in hematopoietic cells. The antiapoptotic function of Bcr-Abl is necessary for hematopoietic transformation, and also contributes to leukemogenesis. Herein, we show for the first time that cell transformation induced by Bcr-Abl leads to increased expression and kinase activity of MEK kinase 1 (MEKK1), which acts upstream of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) and NF-kappaB signaling pathways. Inhibition of MEKK1 activity using a dominant-negative MEKK1 mutant (MEKK1km) diminished the ability of Bcr-Abl to protect cells from genotoxin-induced apoptosis, but had no effect on the proliferation of Bcr-Abl-transformed cells. Expression of MEKK1km also reduced NF-kappaB activation, and inhibited antiapoptotic c-IAP1 and c-IAP2 mRNA expression in response to the genotoxin. By contrast, neither JNK nor ERK activation was affected. These results indicate that MEKK1 is a downstream target of Bcr-Abl, and that the antiapoptotic effect of Bcr-Abl in chronic myelogenous leukemia cells is mediated via the MEKK1-NF-kappaB pathway.