The p53 protein is subject to Mdm2-mediated degradation by the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. This degradation requires interaction between p53 and Mdm2 and the subsequent ubiquitination and nuclear export of p53. Exposure of cells to DNA damage results in the stabilization of the p53 protein in the nucleus. However, the underlying mechanism of this effect is poorly defined. Here we demonstrate a key role for c-Abl in the nuclear accumulation of endogenous p53 in cells exposed to DNA damage. This effect of c-Abl is achieved by preventing the ubiquitination and nuclear export of p53 by Mdm2, or by human papillomavirus E6. c-Abl null cells fail to accumulate p53 efficiently following DNA damage. Reconstitution of these cells with physiological levels of c-Abl is sufficient to promote the normal response of p53 to DNA damage via nuclear retention. Our results help to explain how p53 is accumulated in the nucleus in response to DNA damage.