Stimulation of macrophages with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) leads to the production of cytokines that elicit massive liver apoptosis. We investigated the in vivo role of stress-responsive transcription factors (SRTFs) in this process focusing on the precipitating events that are sensitive to a cell-permeant peptide inhibitor of SRTF nuclear import (cSN50). In the absence of cSN50, mice challenged with LPS displayed very early bursts of inflammatory cytokines/chemokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha (1 h), interleukin 6 (2 h), interleukin 1 beta (2 h), and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (2 h). Activation of both initiator caspases 8 and 9 and effector caspase 3 was noted 4 h later when full-blown DNA fragmentation and chromatin condensation were first observed (6 h). At this time an increase of pro-apoptotic Bax gene expression was observed. It was preceded by a decrease of anti-apoptotic Bcl2 and BclX(L) gene transcripts. Massive apoptosis was accompanied by microvascular injury manifested by hemorrhagic necrosis and a precipitous drop in blood platelets observed at 6 h. An increase in fibrinogen/fibrin degradation products and a rise in plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 occurred between 4 and 6 h. Inhibition of SRTFs nuclear import with the cSN50 peptide abrogated all these changes and increased survival from 7 to 71%. Thus, the nuclear import of SRTFs induced by LPS is a prerequisite for activation of the genetic program that governs cytokines/chemokines production, liver apoptosis, microvascular injury, and death. These results should facilitate the rational design of drugs that protect the liver from inflammation-driven apoptosis.