Curcumin, a naturally occurring yellow pigment isolated from turmeric, is a well known antioxidant with broad spectrum of anti-tumor activities against many human cancer cells. In this study, curcumin-induced cytotoxic effect of mouse-rat hybrid retina ganglion cells (N18) were investigated. For determining cell viability, the trypan blue exclusion and flow cytometric analysis were used. The curcumin-caused cell cycle arrest in N18 cells was examined by flow cytometry. Curcumin affect on the production of reactive oxygen species and Ca2+ and on the decrease of the level of mitochondria membrane potential (DeltaPsim) were also examined by flow cytometry. Curcumin-induced apoptosis was determined by DAPI staining and Western blotting was used for examining the apoptotic signaling proteins. Cell cycle analysis showed that G2/M phase arrest and sub-G1 occurs in N18 cells following 48 h exposure to curcumin. Curcumin also caused a marked increase in apoptosis, as characterized by DNA fragmentation (sub-G1 phase formation) and DAPI staining, and dysfunction of mitochondria, which was associated with the activation of caspase-8, -9 and -3. Curcumin also promoted the levels of Fas and FADD, Bax, cytochrome c release, but decreased the levels of Bcl-2 causing changes of DeltaPsim. Curcumin also induced endoplasmic reticulum stress in N18 cells which was based on the changes of GADD153 and GRP78 and caused Ca2+ release. Curcumin induced apoptosis through the intrinsic pathway and caspase-3-dependent and -independent pathways in N18 cells.