Cellular FLICE (FADD-like IL-1beta-converting enzyme)-inhibitory protein (c-FLIP) is a major resistance factor and critical anti-apoptotic regulator that inhibits tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), Fas-L, and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)-induced apoptosis as well as chemotherapy-triggered apoptosis in malignant cells. c-FLIP is expressed as long (c-FLIPL
), short (c-FLIPS
), and c-FLIPR
splice variants in human cells. c-FLIP binds to FADD and/or caspase-8 or -10 in a ligand-dependent and-independent fashion, which in turn prevents death-inducing signaling complex (DISC) formation and subsequent activation of the caspase cascade. Moreover, c-FLIPL
are known to have multifunctional roles in various signaling pathways, as well as activating and/or upregulating several cytoprotective signaling molecules. Upregulation of c-FLIP has been found in various tumor types, and its downregulation has been shown to restore apoptosis triggered by cytokines and various chemotherapeutic agents. Hence, c-FLIP is an important target for cancer therapy. For example, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) that specifically knockdown the expression of c-FLIPL
in diverse human cancer cell lines augmented TRAIL-induced DISC recruitment and increased the efficacy of chemotherapeutic agents, thereby enhancing effector caspase stimulation and apoptosis. Moreover, small molecules causing degradation of c-FLIP as well as decreasing mRNA and protein levels of c-FLIPL
splice variants have been found, and efforts are underway to develop other c-FLIP-targeted cancer therapies. This review focuses on (1) the functional role of c-FLIP splice variants in preventing apoptosis and inducing cytokine and drug resistance; (2) the molecular mechanisms that regulate c-FLIP expression; and (3) strategies to inhibit c-FLIP expression and function.