Ionizing radiation (IR) can induce apoptosis via p53, which is the most commonly mutated gene in human cancers. Loss of p53, however, can render cancer cells refractory to therapeutic effects of IR. Alternate p53-independent pathways exist but are not as well understood as p53-dependent apoptosis. Studies of how IR induces p53-independent cell death could benefit from the existence of a genetically tractable model. In Drosophila melanogaster, IR induces apoptosis in the imaginal discs of larvae, typically assayed at 4-6 hr after exposure to a LD(50) dose. In mutants of Drosophila Chk2 or p53 homologs, apoptosis is severely diminished in these assays, leading to the widely held belief that IR-induced apoptosis depends on these genes in Drosophila. In this article, we show that IR-induced apoptosis still occurs in the imaginal discs of chk2 and p53 mutant larvae, albeit with a delay. We demonstrate that this phenomenon is a true apoptotic response because it requires caspase activity and the chromosomal locus that encodes the pro-apoptotic genes reaper, hid, and grim. We also show that Chk2- and p53-independent apoptosis is IR dose-dependent and is therefore probably triggered by a DNA damage signal. We conclude that Drosophila has Chk2- and p53-independent pathways to activate caspases and induce apoptosis in response to IR. This work establishes Drosophila as a model for p53-independent apoptosis, which is of potential therapeutic importance for inducing cell death in p53-deficient cancer cells.