The induction of apoptosis, TP53 expression, caspase activation and cell toxicity were investigated after exposure of cells of the human neuronal progenitor cell line Ntera2 (NT2) to low-LET radiation (gamma and X rays). The data indicates that irradiation of NT2 cells quickly induced TP53 expression, which was followed in time by an increase in caspase activity, and ultimately resulted in the induction of apoptosis. Induction of apoptosis was dependent on dose, and the highest levels were measured 48 h after exposure. For comparison, the level of apoptosis induced by high-LET particle radiation (1 GeV/ nucleon iron ions) was also determined and was found to be dependent on dose. The relative biological effectiveness (RBE) was estimated from the slopes of the dose-response curves for the induction of apoptosis. The RBE(max) for apoptosis 48 h after exposure was at least 3.4. In short, exposure to high-LET radiation results in a more efficient and greater induction of apoptosis in human neuronal progenitor cells than low-LET radiation.