Elevated heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) expression has been linked to poor prognosis in patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The multitargeted antifolate pemetrexed has demonstrated certain clinical activities against NSCLC. However, the efficacy of the combination of pemtrexed and Hsp90 inhibitor to prolong the survival of patients with NSCLC still remains unclear. Human MutS homolog 2 (MSH2), a crucial element of the highly conserved DNA mismatch repair system, and defects or polymorphisms of MSH2 have been found in lung cancer. In this study, we evaluated the effects of pemetrexed on NSCLC cell lines (H520 and H1703) and found that treatment with this drug at 20-50 µM increased the MSH2 mRNA and protein levels in a MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal activation-dependent manner. Furthermore, the knockdown of MSH2 expression by transfection with small interfering RNA of MSH2 or the blockage of p38 MAPK activation by SB202190 enhanced the cytotoxicity of pemetrexed. Combining the drug treatment with an Hsp90 inhibitor resulted in an enhanced pemetrexed-induced cytotoxic effect, accompanied with the reduction of MSH2 protein and mRNA levels. The expression of constitutively active MKK6 (MKK6E) or HA-p38 MAPK vectors significantly rescued the decreased p38 MAPK activity, and restored the MSH2 protein levels and cell survival in NSCLC cells co-treated with pemetrexed and Hsp90 inhibitor. In this study, we have demonstrated that down-regulation of the MKK3/6-p38 MAPK signal with the subsequent reduction of MSH2 enhanced the cytotoxic effect of pemetrexed in H520 and H1703 cells. The results suggest a potential future benefit of combining pemetrexed and the Hsp90 inhibitor to treat lung cancer.