Deletion and point (L166P) mutations of DJ-1 have recently been shown to be responsible for the onset of familial Parkinson's disease (PD, PARK7). The aim of this study was to determine the role of DJ-1 in PD. We first found that DJ-1 eliminated hydrogen peroxide in vitro by oxidizing itself. We then found that DJ-1 knockdown by short interfering RNA rendered SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells susceptible to hydrogen peroxide-, MPP+- or 6-hydroxydopamine-induced cell death and that cells harbouring mutant forms of DJ-1, including L166P, became susceptible to death in parallel with the loss of oxidized forms of DJ-1. These results clearly showed that DJ-1 has a role in the antioxidative stress reaction and that mutations of DJ-1 lead to cell death, which is observed in PD.