The actin-modulating protein Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein verprolin homologous-1 (WAVE1) and a novel CNS-specific protein, pancortin, are highly enriched in adult cerebral cortex, but their functions are unknown. Here we show that WAVE1 and pancortin-2 interact in a novel cell death cascade in adult, but not embryonic, cerebral cortical neurons. Focal ischemic stroke induces the formation of a protein complex that includes pancortin-2, WAVE1, and the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL. The three-protein complex is associated with mitochondria resulting in increased association of Bax with mitochondria, cytochrome c release, and neuronal apoptosis. In pancortin null mice generated using a Cre-loxP system, ischemia-induced WAVE1-Bcl-xL interaction is diminished, and cortical neurons in these mice are protected against ischemic injury. Thus, pancortin-2 is a mediator of ischemia-induced apoptosis of neurons in the adult cerebral cortex and functions in a novel mitochondrial/actin-associated protein complex that sequesters Bcl-xL.