Oxidative stress in the vascular wall has intimately been implicated in the apoptosis of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) by lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC). However, the major type of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in this apoptotic signaling pathway remains to be clarified. In this study, we report that superoxide mediate LPC-induced caspase-3 dependent apoptosis in cultured HUVECs. The stimulation of HUVECs with LPC evoked apoptosis and ROS generation, and inhibited nitric oxide (NO) production in a dose-dependent manner. The classical caspase-3 dependent apoptosis was determined after 16 hours treatment by Western blotting using an antibody against cleaved caspase-3. The caspase-3 activation induced by LPC was prominently inhibited by antioxidants or NO donors and enhanced by NO inhibitors. Especially, LPC-induced caspase-3 activation was inhibited by superoxide dismutase (SOD) and enhanced by ammonium tetrathiomolybdate, SOD inhibitor. Additionally, xanthine/xanthine oxidase mixture increased the caspase-3 activation but catalase failed to reduce this superoxide-induced caspase-3 activation. These findings indicate that the superoxide generation caused by LPC activates the caspase-3 which results in HUVECs death. This study reveals some evidences linking superoxide with caspase-3 activation and provides a new dimension to superoxidemediated caspase-3 activation in developing the endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis.