In cells undergoing apoptosis, a 22-amino-acid presenilin-2-loop peptide (PS2-LP, amino acids 308-329 in presenilin-2) is generated through cleavage of the carboxyl-terminal fragment of presenilin-2 by caspase-3. The impact of PS2-LP on the progression of apoptosis, however, is not known. Here we show that PS2-LP is a potent inducer of the mitochondrial-dependent cell death pathway when transduced as a fusion protein with HIV-TAT. Biochemical and functional studies demonstrate that TAT-PS2-LP can interact with the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor and activate Ca(2+) release from the endoplasmic reticulum. These results indicate that PS2-LP-mediated alteration of intracellular Ca(2+) homeostasis may be linked to the acceleration of apoptosis. Therefore, targeting the function of PS2-LP could provide a useful therapeutic tool for the treatment of cancer and degenerative diseases.