The authors previously reported that transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) induces apoptosis in McA-RH7777 (7777) and McA-RH8994 (8994) rat hepatoma cell lines. Although these cell lines exhibit different responses to glucocorticoid treatment in various cellular functions and gene expression, dexamethasone (DEX) inhibited spontaneous and TGF-β1 –induced apoptosis in both. Analysis of analogous hormones in TGF-β1 –induced apoptosis in 8994 cells suggested the inhibitory effect to be glucocorticoid-specific. By cell-cycle analysis and DNA fragmentation assay using sodium butyrate, a G1-arrest–inducing reagent, regulation of apoptosis by TGF-β1 and DEX was shown independent of the cell cycle. For elucidation of the mechanisms of anti-apoptotic action of DEX, the effects of various chemical probes on this apoptosis model were examined, and various reagents known to exhibit anti-apoptotic activity in other experimental systems were found to be ineffective. The effect of TGF-β1 and DEX on cellular amounts of several apoptosis-related proteins, members of the Bcl-2 family, Bcl-2, Bcl-xL, Bcl-xS, Bad, and Bax was also examined. DEX drastically increased Bcl-xL in both cell lines irrespective of the presence of TGF-β1. Bcl-2 and Bcl-xS proteins were not detected, and Bax and Bad content did not change by treatment with TGF-β1 or DEX. Progesterone (Prog), a partial antagonist for glucocorticoid receptor, inhibited the effects of DEX on apoptosis and Bcl-xL expression in 8994 cells. Thus, Bcl-xL induction by DEX would appear closely associated with its inhibitory effect on spontaneous and TGF-β1–induced apoptosis in the hepatoma cell lines.