The poly(ADP-ribose) polymerases (PARP) play important roles in repairing damaged DNA during intrinsic cell death. We recently linked PARP-1 to death receptor (DR)-activated extrinsic apoptosis, the present studies sought to elucidate the function of cytoplasmic PARP-1 in pancreatic cancer tumorigenesis and therapy. Using human normal and pancreatic cancer tissues, we analyzed the prevalence of cytoplasmic PARP-1 expression. In normal human pancreatic tissues, PARP-1 expression was present in the nucleus; however, cytoplasmic PARP-1 expression was identified in pancreatic cancers. Therefore, cytoplasmic PARP-1 mutants were generated by site-direct mutagenesis, to determine a causative effect of cytoplasmic PARP-1 on pancreatic cancer tumorigenesis and sensitivity to therapy with TRA-8, a humanized DR5 antibody. PARP-1 cytoplasmic mutants rendered TRA-8 sensitive pancreatic cancer cells, BxPc-3 and MiaPaCa-2, more resistant to TRA-8-induced apoptosis; whereas wild-type PARP-1, localizing mainly in the nucleus, had no effects. Additionally, cytoplasmic PARP-1, but not wild-type PARP-1, increased resistance of BxPc-3 cells to TRA-8 therapy in a mouse xenograft model in vivo. Inhibition of PARP enzymatic activity attenuated cytoplasmic PARP-1-mediated TRA-8 resistance. Furthermore, increased cytoplasmic PARP-1, but not wild-type PARP-1, was recruited into the TRA-8-activated death-inducing signaling complex and associated with increased and sustained activation of Src-mediated survival signals. In contrast, PARP-1 knockdown inhibited Src activation. Taken together, we have identified a novel function and mechanism underlying cytoplasmic PARP-1, distinct from nuclear PARP-1, in regulating DR5-activated apoptosis. Our studies support an innovative application of available PARP inhibitors or new cytoplasmic PARP-1 antagonists to enhance TRAIL therapy for TRAIL-resistant pancreatic cancers.