An anion exchange blocker, DIDS, exhibits anti-apoptotic activity in response to several apoptotic stimuli, but has an opposite effect when apoptosis is induced by serum deprivation. After adding DIDS, serum-deprived MCT cells exhibited vacuole formation in their cytoplasm and underwent cell death. Caspase activity increased with the addition of DIDS to serum-deprived MCT cells, but Z-Asp-CH2-DCB, a caspase inhibitor, did not inhibit cell death in DIDS-treated, serum-deprived MCT cells. Cathepsin is considered to be important for vacuole formation and cell lysis, and pepstatin A, a cathepsin D inhibitor, partially inhibited vacuole formation in DIDS-treated, serum-deprived MCT cells, although caspase activation was not inhibited. 3-Methyladenin inhibited vacuole formation and cell death in DIDS-treated, serum-deprived MCT cells. These results suggest that DIDS-treated serum-deprived MCT cells undergo autophagy, not apoptosis.