Basal cell adhesion molecule (B-CAM) is strongly upregulated in epithelial skin cancer cells in vivo and in vitro. We have tested here whether B-CAM is (1) inversely associated with or (2) functionally involved in apoptosis. Towards this end, B-CAM expression was assessed in HaCaT transfectants overexpressing murine Bcl-2 and untransfected HaCaT cells exposed to various proapoptotic stimuli. In another series of experiments, we overexpressed B-CAM in HaCaT cells and different fibroblast lines, and stimulated various apoptotic pathways in the transfectants and control cells. In addition, apoptosis was assessed after an antibody-mediated B-CAM blockade. We could demonstrate that expression of B-CAM is inversely associated with the susceptibility of cells to apoptosis. However, overexpression or antibody- mediated inhibition of B-CAM had only limited functional effects on cellular apoptosis.