The balance between cell proliferation and apoptosis is critical for normal development and for the maintenance of homeostasis in adult organisms. Disruption of this balance has been implicated in a large number of disease processes, ranging from autoimmunity and neurodegenerative disorders to cancer. The ubiquitin–proteasome pathway, responsible for mediating the majority of intracellular proteolysis, plays a crucial role in the regulation of many normal cellular processes, including the cell cycle, differentiation and apoptosis. Apoptosis in cancer cells is closely connected with the activity of ubiquitin–proteasome pathway. The peptide-aldehyde proteasome inhibitor MG132 (carbobenzoxyl-L-leucyl-L-leucyl-L-leucine) induces the apoptosis of cells by a different intermediary pathway. Although the pathway of induction of apoptosis is different, it plays a crucial role in anti-tumor treatment. There are many cancer-related molecules in which the protein levels present in cells are regulated by a proteasomal pathway; for example, tumor inhibitors (P53, E2A, c-Myc, c-Jun, c-Fos), transcription factors (transcription factor nuclear factor-kappa B, IκBα, HIFI, YYI, ICER), cell cycle proteins (cyclin A and B, P27, P21, IAP1/3), MG132 induces cell apoptosis through formation of reactive oxygen species or the upregulation and downregulation of these factors, which is ultimately dependent upon the activation of the caspase family of cysteine proteases. In this article we review the mechanism of the induction of apoptosis in order to provide information required for research.