Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic inflammation and pancreatic beta-cell loss. Here, we demonstrate that the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1beta, combined with interferon-gamma, induces the expression of the Bcl-2 homology 3 (BH3)-only activator PUMA (p53 up-regulated modulator of apoptosis) in beta-cells. Transcriptional activation of PUMA is regulated by nuclear factor-kappaB and endoplasmic reticulum stress but is independent of p53. PUMA activation leads to mitochondrial Bax translocation, cytochrome c release, and caspase-3 cleavage resulting in beta-cell demise. The antiapoptotic Bcl-XL protein is localized mainly at the mitochondria of the beta-cells and antagonizes PUMA action, but Bcl-XL is inactivated by the BH3-only sensitizer DP5/Hrk in cytokine-exposed beta-cells. Moreover, a pharmacological mimic of the BH3-only sensitizer Bad, which inhibits Bcl-XL and Bcl-2, induces PUMA-dependent beta-cell death and potentiates cytokine-induced apoptosis. Our data support a hierarchical activation of BH3-only proteins controlling the intrinsic pathway of beta-cell apoptosis in the context of inflammation and type 1 diabetes.