Anthrax lethal toxin (LT) is cytotoxic to macrophages from certain inbred mouse strains. The gene controlling macrophage susceptibility to LT is Nalp1b. Nalp1b forms part of the inflammasome, a multiprotein complex involved in caspase-1 activation and release of interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18. We confirm the role of caspase-1 in LT-mediated death by showing that caspase inhibitors differentially protected cells against LT, with the degree of protection corresponding to each compound's ability to inhibit caspase-1. Caspase-1 activation and cytokine processing and release were late events inhibited by elevated levels of KCl and sucrose, by potassium channel blockers, and by proteasome inhibitors, suggesting that inflammasome formation requires a protein-degradation event and occurs downstream of LT-mediated potassium efflux. In addition, IL-18 and IL-1β release was dependent on cell death, indicating that caspase-1-mediated cytotoxicity is independent of these cytokines. Finally, inducing NALP3-inflammasome formation in LT-resistant macrophages did not sensitize cells to LT, suggesting that general caspase-1 activation cannot account for sensitivity to LT and that a Nalp1b-mediated event is specifically required for death. Our data indicate that inflammasome formation is a contributing, but not initiating, event in LT-mediated cytotoxicity and that earlier LT-mediated events leading to ion fluxes are required for death.