Radiation-induced tumor cells death is the theoretical basis of tumor radiotherapy. Death signaling disorder is the most important factor for radioresistance. However, the signaling pathway(s) leading to radiation-triggered cell death is (are) still not completely known. To better understand the cell death signaling induced by radiation, the immortalized mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) deficient in "initiator" caspases, "effector" caspases or different Bcl-2 family proteins together with human colon carcinoma cell HCT116 were used. Our data indicated that radiation selectively induced the activation of caspase-9 and caspase-3/7 but not caspase-8 by triggering mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization (MOMP). Importantly, the role of radiation in MOMP is independent of the activation of both "initiator" and "effector" caspases. Furthermore, both proapoptotic and antiapoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins were involved in radiation-induced apoptotic signaling. Overall, our study indicated that radiation specifically triggered the intrinsic apoptotic signaling pathway through Bcl-2 family protein-dependent mitochondrial permeabilization, which indicates targeting mitochondria is a promising strategy for cancer radiotherapy.