Yersinia enterocolitica induces apoptosis in macrophages by injecting the plasmid-encoded YopP (YopJ in other Yersinia species). Recently it was reported that YopP/J is a member of an ubiquitin-like protein cysteine protease family and that the catalytic core of YopP/J is required for its inhibition of the MAPK and NF-kappaB pathways. Here we analyzed the YopP/J-induced apoptotic signaling pathway. YopP-mediated cell death could be inhibited by addition of the zVAD caspase inhibitor, but not by DEVD or YVAD. Generation of truncated Bid (tBid) was the first apoptosis-related event that we observed. The subsequent translocation of tBid to the mitochondria induced the release of cytochrome c, leading to the activation of procaspase-9 and the executioner procaspases-3 and -7. Inhibition of the postmitochondrial executioner caspases-3 and -7 did not affect Bid cleavage. Bid cleavage could not be observed in a yopP-deficient Y. enterocolitica strain, showing that this event requires YopP. Disruption of the catalytic core of YopP abolished the rapid generation of tBid, thereby hampering induction of apoptosis by Y. enterocolitica. This finding supports the idea that YopP/J induces apoptosis by directly acting on cell death pathways, rather than being the mere consequence of gene induction inhibition in combination with microbial stimulation of the macrophage.