Lipoapoptosis of cardiomyocytes may underlie diabetic cardiomyopathy. Numerous forms of cardiomyopathies share a common end-pathway in which apoptotic loss of cardiomyocytes is mediated by p38α mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK). Although we have previously shown that palmitic acid (PA), a saturated fatty acid (SFA) elevated in plasma of type 2 diabetes mellitus and morbid obesity, induces apoptosis in cardiomyocytes via p38α MAPK-dependent signaling, the downstream cascade events that cause cell death remain unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate mechanisms involved in palmitic acid-induced cardiomyocyte apoptosis. Human adult ventricular cardiomyocyte line (AC16 cells) exposed to high physiological levels of PA for 16 h showed enhanced transcription and phosphorylation of c-fos and c-jun subunits of AP-1 and transcription of caspase 8. When AC16 cells were transfected with small interfering RNA specific against p38α MAPK (si-p38α) for 24 or 48 h, the amplified phosphorylation of c-fos was dose-dependently attenuated, and procaspase 8 was dose-dependently reduced. With translational knockdown of c-fos, PA-induced apoptosis was diminished. Inhibition of caspase 8 for 24 h reduced apoptosis in PA-treated cardiomyocytes. These findings provide evidence for induction of apoptosis in cardiomyocytes exposed to high SFA by a novel pathway requiring activation of c-fos/AP-1 and caspase 8. These results demonstrate how elevated plasma SFA may lead to continual and cumulative loss of cardiomyocytes and potentially contribute to the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy.