Reactive oxygen species have recently been demonstrated to play a role in numerous cellular signal transduction pathways. Here we investigate the involvement of H2O2 in Raf-1-mediated differentiation in the human medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) cell line TT:deltaRaf-1:ER. Catalase, but not Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase, completely inhibited Raf-1-induced differentiation of beta-estradiol-treated TT: deltaRaf-1:ER. In addition, catalase treatment down-regulated RET expression at both the mRNA and protein levels and induced apoptosis in the parental TT cell line and uninduced TT:deltaRaf-1:ER human MTC cells. These results implicate H2O2 as a downstream mediator of c-Raf-1-induced differentiation and as a survival factor in MTC cells.