[en] Ceramides are important intracellular second messengers that play a role in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation, and programmed cell death. To determine whether ceramides can mediate the apoptosis of HCT116 and OVCAR-3 cancer cells, exogenous C2-, C6-, and C16-ceramides were used to mimic the endogenous lipid increase that follows a large variety of stresses. C2- and C6-ceramides (cell-permeable ceramide analogs), but not C16-ceramide, induced nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) DNA-binding, caspase-3 activation, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase degradation, and mitochondrial cytochrome c release, indicating that apoptosis occurs through the caspase cascade and the mitochondrial pathway. No difference in survival was observed between control cells and cells expressing mutated IkappaBalpha and treated with the permeable ceramides. This suggests that, at least in these cell lines, stable NF-kappaB inhibition did not modify the ceramide-induced cytotoxicity pathway. C6-ceramide also induced a double block in G1 and G2, thus emptying the S phase.