Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) is a survival factor in melanocytes and melanoma cells. MITF regulates expression of antiapoptotic genes and promotes lineage-specific survival in response to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and to chemotherapeutics. SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling enzymes interact with MITF to regulate MITF target gene expression. We determined that the catalytic subunit, BRG1, of the SWI/SNF complex protects melanoma cells against UV-induced death. BRG1 prevents apoptosis in UV-irradiated melanoma cells by activating expression of the melanoma inhibitor of apoptosis (ML-IAP). Down-regulation of ML-IAP compromises BRG1-mediated survival of melanoma cells in response to UV radiation. BRG1 regulates ML-IAP expression by cooperating with MITF to promote transcriptionally permissive chromatin structure on the ML-IAP promoter. The alternative catalytic subunit, BRM, and the BRG1-associated factor, BAF180, were found to be dispensable for elevated expression of ML-IAP in melanoma cells. Thus, we illuminate a lineage-specific mechanism by which a specific SWI/SNF subunit, BRG1, modulates the cellular response to DNA damage by regulating an antiapoptotic gene and implicate this subunit of the SWI/SNF complex in mediating the prosurvival function of MITF.