Often the use of cytotoxic drugs in cancer therapy results in stable disease rather than regression of the tumor, and this is typically seen as a failure of treatment. We now show that DNA damage is able to induce senescence in tumor cells expressing wild-type p53. We also show that cytotoxics are capable of inducing senescence in tumor tissue in vivo. Our results suggest that p53 and p21 play a central role in the onset of senescence, whereas p16(INK4a) function may be involved in maintaining senescence. Thus, like apoptosis, senescence appears to be a p53-induced cellular response to DNA damage and an important factor in determining treatment outcome.