p90 Ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) 4 is a serine-threonine kinase that belongs to the p90RSK family. RSK4 has been proposed as a tumor suppressor gene, related with anti-invasive activity, inhibition of the RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and induction of senescence. Despite the related findings, little is known about RSK4 effectors. In human tumors, RSK4 is downregulated even in some benign lesions, such as colon adenomas and breast papillomas, indicating that RSK4 inhibition could be an early event in cellular transformation. For cells to achieve immortality and transformation, it is believed that they must override senescence. In the present study, we found that when RSK4 is inhibited in vitro using short hairpin RNA technology, cells can bypass stress-induced senescence and oncogene-induced senescence: normal human fibroblasts grew following oxidative stress, induction of DNA damage and KRASV12 or BRAFE600 overexpression. To investigate the RSK4 effectors, we used short hairpin RNA or inhibitor molecules against major senescence mediators. We found that RSK4-induced senescence is mediated through p21, but is independent of p16, p38MAPKs and induction of reactive oxygen species, delimiting RSK4 signaling. These data support the importance of RSK4 for regulating senescence and indicate that downregulation of this kinase could be an important element in facilitating cell transformation. © The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.