The proteasome inhibitor PS-341 (bortezomib or Velcade), an approved drug for treatment of patients with multiple myeloma, is currently being tested in clinical trials against various malignancies, including lung cancer. Preclinical studies have shown that PS-341 induces apoptosis and enhances tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis in human cancer cells with undefined mechanisms. In the present study, we show that PS-341 induced caspase-8-dependent apoptosis, cooperated with TRAIL to induce apoptosis, and up-regulated death receptor 5 (DR5) expression in human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells. DR5 induction correlated with the ability of PS-341 to induce apoptosis. Blockage of PS-341-induced DR5 up-regulation using DR5 small interfering RNA (siRNA) rendered cells less sensitive to apoptosis induced by either PS-341 or its combination with TRAIL, indicating that DR5 up-regulation mediates PS-341-induced apoptosis and enhancement of TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human NSCLC cells. We exclude the involvement of c-FLIP and survivin in mediating these events because c-FLIP (i.e., FLIP(S)) and survivin protein levels were actually elevated on exposure to PS-341. Reduction of c-FLIP with c-FLIP siRNA sensitized cells to PS-341-induced apoptosis, suggesting that c-FLIP elevation protects cells from PS-341-induced apoptosis. Thus, the present study highlights the important role of DR5 up-regulation in PS-341-induced apoptosis and enhancement of TRAIL-induced apoptosis in human NSCLC cells.