The cytosolic factor Cif (cytochrome c-efflux inducing factor) was activated by the apoptosis inducers staurosporine and anti-Fas antibodies and rapidly induced the efflux of cytochrome c from purified human mitochondria. HL-60 cells that stably overexpressed a bcl-2 cDNA transgene (Bcl-2:HL-60 cells) contained mitochondria and a cytosol that were resistant to exogenous Cif and that lacked detectable endogenous Cif activity, respectively. Therefore, Bcl-2 overexpression negated Cif activity and suggested that the requirement for Cif resides upstream of Bcl-2 on the apoptotic signal transduction pathway. The addition of purified caspase 3, caspase 7, or caspase 8 to the cytosolic extract from Bcl-2:HL-60 cells, however, restored Cif activity, demonstrating that the inhibition of Cif by Bcl-2 overexpression could be overcome by activated caspases. Moreover, the addition of purified caspases to cytosolic extracts prepared from parental HL-60 cells was also sufficient to cause Cif activation, suggesting that caspases might be required for Cif activation. Consistent with these observations, Fas-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells resulted in caspase 8 activation and subsequently in activation of Cif. Finally, we demonstrate that the activation of Cif correlated with the activation of the Bcl-2 family member Bid by caspases and that Cif activity was selectively neutralized by anti-Bid antibodies. Taken together, these results indicate that Cif is identical to Bid and that it can be inhibited by Bcl-2 and activated by caspases. Thus, Cif (Bid) is an important biological regulator for the transduction of apoptotic signals.