WEHI-231 B lymphoma cells have been employed for analysis of antigen-induced B cell unresponsiveness because these cells undergo cell cycle arrest in G1, accompanied by induction of apoptosis. In the present study, we examined the requirement for toxic small molecules apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cytochrome c, and subsequent caspase activation in apoptotic cell death in WEHI-231 and CH31 B lymphoma cells following engagement of membrane immunoglobulin (mIg). Pan-caspase inhibitor BD-fmk blocked mIg-mediated increase in cells with sub-G1 DNA content, whereas it did not affect mIg-mediated loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and phosphatidylserine exposure on B cell membrane. Dominant-negative form of c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase1 (JNK1) blocked the translocation of AIF into the nuclei and cytosol from the mitochondria in the WEHI-231 and CH31 cells following mIg engagement, whereas constitutively active form of JNK1 enhanced it. This AIF translocation was also blocked by Bcl-xL, but not by BD-fmk. Moreover, AIF-deficient clones via small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated method showed small increase in loss of mitochondrial membrane potential. After mIg engagement, the AIF-deficient clones displayed an enhanced sensitivity to mIg-mediated apoptosis, concomitant with translocation of a residual AIF into the nuclei, compared with control clone. Our findings are compatible with the notion that AIF has dual role, with a proapoptotic function in the nuclei and a distinct anti-apoptotic function in the mitochondria. These observations would be valuable for analysis of B cell unresponsiveness and hopefully for treatment of diseases involving B cell dysfunction. J. Cell. Biochem. 104: 1927–1936, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.