Clusterin (CLU), a glycoprotein, is involved in apoptosis, producing two alternatively spliced isoforms in various cell types. The pro-apoptotic CLU appears to be a nuclear isoform (nuclear clusterin; nCLU), and the secretory CLU (sCLU) is thought to be anti-apoptotic. The detailed molecular mechanism of nCLU as a pro-apoptotic molecule has not yet been clear. In the current study, overexpressed nCLU induced apoptosis in human kidney cells. Biochemical studies revealed that nCLU sequestered Bcl-XL via a putative BH3 motif in the C-terminal coiled coil (CC2) domain, releasing Bax, and promoted apoptosis accompanied by activation of caspase-3 and cytochrome c release. These results suggest a novel mechanism of apoptosis mediated by nCLU as a pro-apoptotic molecule. J. Cell. Physiol. 227: 1157–1167, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.