This study aimed to investigate the relationship between prognosis and protein and mRNA expression ofan apoptotic inhibitor gene, survivin, in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Furthermore, functions ofthe survivin gene in the CNE2 nasopharyngeal carcinoma cell line were assessed. Immunohistochemistry andin situ hybridization were used in detecting the survivin protein and mRNA in 44 nasopharyngeal carcinomaspecimens, and 30 chronic nasopharyngitis samples as controls. Survivin gene expression in CNE2 cell line wassuppressed with an shRNA (short hairpin RNA). The positive ratios of expression for survivin protein and mRNAin nasopharyngeal carcinoma were 79.5% and 75.0% respectively, obviously higher than in the control group(p<0.01), and there is very good consistency between the two methods. The mean survival time of patients withhigher survivin protein or mRNA expression was shorter than in patients with lower levelsv(p<0.01). Proliferationof the CNE2 cell line was distinctly inhibited by the shRNA . The results indicate that overexpression of thesurvivin gene plays an important role in onset and development of nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and it may behelpful for prognostic appraisal.