During viral infection, cells initiate antiviral responses to contain replication and inhibit virus spread. One protective mechanism involves activation of transcription factors interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3) and NF-kappaB, resulting in secretion of the antiviral cytokine, interferon-beta. Another is induction of apoptosis, killing the host cell before virus disseminates. Mammalian reovirus induces both interferon-beta and apoptosis, raising the possibility that both pathways are initiated by a common cellular sensor. We show here that reovirus activates IRF-3 with kinetics that parallel the activation of NF-kappaB, a known mediator of reovirus-induced apoptosis. Activation of IRF-3 requires functional retinoic acid inducible gene-I and interferon-beta promoter stimulator-1, but these intracellular sensors are dispensable for activation of NF-kappaB. Interferon-beta promoter stimulator-1 and IRF-3 are required for efficient apoptosis following reovirus infection, suggesting a common mechanism of antiviral cytokine induction and activation of the cell death response.