ARTICLE ABSTRACTNasopharyngeal carcinoma is a common malignancy in Southern China. After radiotherapy and chemotherapy, a considerable proportion of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma suffered tumor relapse and metastasis. Cancer stem cells (CSC) have been shown with resistance against therapies and thus considered as the initiator of recurrence and metastasis in tumors, where the antiapoptotic property of CSCs play an important role. Smac/DIABLO is an inverse regulator for the inhibitors of apoptosis protein family (IAP), which have been involved in apoptosis. Here, the effects of Smac mimetics on the CSCs of nasopharyngeal carcinoma were studied both in vitro and in vivo, using two clones of nasopharyngeal carcinoma cell line CNE2 as models. We found that one of the clones, S18, had CSC-like properties and IAPs were overexpressed. The combination of Smac mimetics and TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) can reduce the percentage of SP cells and inhibit the colony- and sphere-forming abilities of S18 cells, indicating their ability to attenuate the CSCs. Moreover, in a nasopharyngeal carcinoma xenograft model, the administration of Smac mimetics in combination with TRAIL also led to the elimination of nasopharyngeal carcinoma stem cells. Furthermore, the Smac mimetics in combination with TRAIL induced the degradation of cIAP1 and XIAP and thus induced apoptosis in vitro and in vivo. Taken together, our data show that Smac mimetics exerted an antitumor effect on nasopharyngeal carcinoma cancer stem cells, and this combination treatment should be considered as a promising strategy for the treatment of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Mol Cancer Ther; 12(9); 1728–37. ©2013 AACR.