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ABT-737 is a novel and potent Bcl-2 antagonist with single-agent activity against small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines. Here, we evaluated the contribution of Bcl-2 family members to the in vitro cellular response of several SCLC cell lines to ABT-737. Relatively higher levels of Bcl-2, Bcl-X(L), Bim and Noxa, and lower levels of Mcl-1 characterized naïve SCLC cell lines that were sensitive to ABT-737. Conversely, a progressive decrease in the relative levels of Bcl-2 and Noxa and a progressive increase in Mcl-1 levels characterized the increased resistance of H146 cells following chronic exposure to ABT-737. Knockdown of Mcl-1 with small interfering RNA sensitized two resistant SCLC cell lines H196 and DMS114 to ABT-737 by enhancing the induction of apoptosis. Likewise, up-regulation of Noxa sensitized H196 cells to ABT-737. Combination treatment with DNA-damaging agents was extremely synergistic with ABT-737 and was associated with the down-regulation of Mcl-1 and the up-regulation of Noxa, Puma, and Bim in H196 cells. Thus, SCLC cells sensitive to ABT-737 expressed the target proteins Bcl-2 and Bcl-X(L), whereas Mcl-1 and factors regulating Mcl-1 function seem to contribute to the overall resistance of SCLC cells to ABT-737. Overall, these observations provide further insight as to the mechanistic bases for ABT-737 efficacy in SCLC and will be helpful for profiling patients and aiding in the rational design of combination therapies.