Although early studies of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) suggested that cIAP1 directly binds and inhibits caspases similarly to X-linked IAP (XIAP), a recent one found that micromolar concentrations of cIAP1 only weakly inhibit caspase-3, -7, or -9. Here, we show that cIAP1 specifically and cooperatively blocks the cytochrome c-dependent apoptosome in vitro. Hence, cIAP1 prevented the activation of procaspase-3 but had no effect on the processing of procaspase-9 or the activity of prior activated caspase-3. Like cIAP1, XIAP had no effect on procaspase-9 processing and was a more potent inhibitor of procaspase-3 activation than of already activated caspase-3 activity. Inhibition of procaspase-3 activation depended on BIR2 and BIR3 of cIAP1 and was independent of BIR1, RING, CARD, and UBA domains. Smac prevented cIAP1 from inhibiting procaspase-3 activation and reversed the inhibition by prior addition of cIAP1. A procaspase-9 mutant (D315A) that cannot produce the p12 subunit was resistant to inhibition by cIAP1. Therefore, the N-terminal Ala-Thr-Pro-Phe motif of the p12 subunit of the caspase-9 apoptosome facilitates apoptosome blockade. Consequently, cIAP1 cooperatively interacts with oligomerized processed caspase-9 in the apoptosome and blocks procaspase-3 activation.