The anthracycline antibiotic doxorubicin (DOX) is a potent cancer chemotherapeutic agent that exerts both acute and chronic cardiotoxicity. Here we show that in adult mouse cardiomyocytes, DOX activates (i) the pro-apoptotic p53, (ii) p38MAPK and JNK, (iii) Bax translocation, (iv) cytochrome c release, and (v) caspase 3. Further, it (vi) inhibits expression of anti-apoptotic Akt, Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL, and (vii) induces internucleosomal degradation and cell death. WNT1-inducible signaling pathway protein-1 (WISP1), a CCN family member and a matricellular protein, inhibits DOX-mediated cardiomyocyte death. WISP1 inhibits DOX-induced p53 activation, p38 MAPK and JNK phosphorylation, Bax translocation to mitochondria, and cytochrome c release into cytoplasm. Additionally, WISP1 reverses DOX-induced suppression of Bcl-2 and Bcl-xL expression and Akt inhibition. The pro-survival effects of WISP1 were recapitulated by the forced expression of mutant p53, wild-type Bcl-2, wild-type Bcl-xL, or constitutively active Akt prior to DOX treatment. WISP1 also induces the pro-survival factor Survivin via PI3K/Akt signaling. Overexpression of wild-type, but not mutant Survivin, blunts DOX cytotoxicity. Further, WISP1 stimulates PI3K-Akt-dependent GSK3β phosphorylation and β-catenin nuclear translocation. Importantly, WISP1 induces its own expression. Together, these results provide important insights into the cytoprotective effects of WISP1 in cardiomyocytes, and suggest a potential therapeutic role for WISP1 in DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. © 2009 Elsevier Inc.