The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) frequently associates with cancer and already serves as a target for therapy. We report that inflammatory cytokines and ultraviolet (UV) irradiation respectively induce transient or sustained phosphorylation of EGFR. Subsequently, EGFR internalizes via a Clathrin-mediated process. In cytokine-stimulated cells, EGFR recycles back to the cell surface, whereas in irradiated cells it arrests in Rab5-containing endosomes. Under both conditions, receptor internalization is instigated by the p38 stress-induced kinase. The underlying mechanism entails phosphorylation of EGFR at a short segment (amino acids 1002–1022) containing multiple serines and threonines, as well as phosphorylation of two Rab5 effectors, EEA1 and GDI. Like UV irradiation, a chemotherapeutic agent activates p38 and accelerates receptor internalization. We demonstrate that abrogating EGFR internalization reduces the efficacy of chemotherapy-induced cell death. Hence, by preventing EGFR-mediated survival signaling, the internalization route we uncovered enhances the cytotoxic effect of drugs like cis-platinum, which may underlie interactions between chemotherapy and EGFR-targeting drugs.