We investigated the influence of cytochrome c on apoptosis induced by Anagrapha (Syngrapha) falcifera multiple nuclear polyhedrosis virus (AfMNPV). Microscopic observation revealed that infection of SL-1 cells with AfMNPV resulted in apoptosis, displaying apoptotic bodies in fluorescent-stained nuclei of AfMNPV-infected SL-1cells. Western blot analysis demonstrated that AfMNPV-induced apoptosis in insect SL-1 cells was significantly inhibited by cyclosporin A which blocked a translocation of cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytosol. As determined by using AC-DEVD-AFC as substrate, the activity of caspase-3 in AfMNPV-induced cells was detected as early as 4 h post infection, gradually increased with time extension, and reached a highest level after 16 h of infection. However, activity of caspase-3 in apoptotic cells decreased in the presence of cyclosporin A (30 μM), indicating that activation of caspase-3 in SfaMNPV-induced cells was dependent on the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria. In addition, cyclosporin A could markedly inhibit mitochondrial transmembrane potential (ΔΨm) disruption in undergoing apoptotic cells. These data indicate that cytochrome c plays a key role in AfMNPV-induced apoptosis in S. litura cells and may be required for caspase activation during the induction of apoptosis.