Cinnamaldehyde (Cin) has been shown to be effective in inducing apoptotic cell death in a number of human cancer cells. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of pifithrin-alpha (PFTα; a specific p53 inhibitor) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) inhibitors [namely SP600125 (a specific JNK inhibitor), SB203580 (a specific p38 inhibitor) and PD98059 (a specific ERK inhibitor)] on apoptotic signaling transduction mechanism induced by Cin in human hepatoma PLC/PRF/5 (CD95-negative) cells. Using XTT assay, Cin exhibited a powerful cytotoxic effect and apoptotic induction in PLC/PRF/5 cells. Apoptosis was elicited when cells were treated with 1 μM Cin as characterized by morphological changes and the appearance of phosphatidylserine on the outer surface of the plasma membrane. Cin down-regulated the expression of Bcl-XL, up-regulated mutant p53 and Bax proteins and promoted caspase-3 to active forms, as well as cleaving poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) in a time-dependent pattern. This could be supported by the activation and phosphorylation of MAPKs, including JNK, ERK and p38 kinases. Pre-incubation with PFTα and specific MAPK inhibitors significantly diminished the effect of Cin-induced apoptosis. The activities of anti-apoptotic (Bcl-XL) and pro-apoptotic (Bax) proteins were remarkably affected by PFTα and PD98059 pre-treatment. PFTα effectively blocked PARP cleavage in cells treated with Cin, and also markedly prevented the phosphorylation of JNK, p38 and ERK proteins. These results suggest that p53 induction and MAPK signaling pathways are required for Cin-mediated apoptosis in PLC/PRF/5 cells.