Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been causally associated with at least five human malignancies. The exact contributions made by EBV to these cancers remain unknown. We demonstrate that one viral protein found in all EBV-associated malignancies, Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 1 (EBNA-1), is required for survival of one of these cancers, EBV-positive Burkitt's lymphoma. Inhibition of EBNA-1 decreases survival of these tumor cells by inducing apoptosis. Expression of EBNA-1 in uninfected cells also can inhibit apoptosis induced by expression of p53 in the absence of the EBV genome. Our findings demonstrate that EBNA-1 is critical for the continued survival of EBV-associated Burkitt's lymphoma, and, by extension, for the other B cell tumors with which EBV is associated. Efficient inhibitors of EBNA-1's functions would likely prove useful in the therapy of EBV-associated malignancies.