PAR [poly(ADP-ribose)] is a structural and regulatory component of multiprotein complexes in eukaryotic cells. PAR catabolism is accelerated under genotoxic stress conditions and this is largely attributable to the activity of a PARG (PAR glycohydrolase). To overcome the early embryonic lethality of parg-knockout mice and gain more insights into the biological functions of PARG, we used an RNA interference approach. We found that as little as 10% of PARG protein is sufficient to ensure basic cellular functions: PARG-silenced murine and human cells proliferated normally through several subculturing rounds and they were able to repair DNA damage induced by sublethal doses of H2O2. However, cell survival following treatment with higher concentrations of H2O2 (0.05-1 mM) was increased. In fact, PARG-silenced cells were more resistant than their wild-type counterparts to oxidant-induced apoptosis while exhibiting delayed PAR degradation and transient accumulation of ADP-ribose polymers longer than 15-mers at early stages of drug treatment. No difference was observed in response to the DNA alkylating agent N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine, suggesting a specific involvement of PARG in the cellular response to oxidative DNA damage.