The inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family member X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) is essential for cell survival in lymphoma. However, the role of XIAP overexpression in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is not fully elucidated. Therefore, we analysed the expression of XIAP protein and its clinicopathological correlation in a large cohort of DLBCLs by immunohistochemistry in a tissue micro-array format. XIAP was found to be overexpressed in 55% of DLBCLs and significantly associated with poor clinical outcome (p = 0.0421). To further elucidate the role of XIAP in DLBCL and the inter-relationship with PI3-kinase/AKT signalling, we conducted several in vitro studies using a panel of DLBCL cell lines. We found that pharmacological inhibition of XIAP led to caspase-dependent apoptosis in DLBCL cells. We also detected an inter-relationship between XIAP expression and activated AKT in DLBCL cells that may explain cellular resistance to PI3-kinase/AKT inhibition-mediated apoptosis. Finally, this anti-apoptotic effect was overcome by simultaneous pharmacological inhibition of XIAP and PI3-kinase/AKT signalling leading to a more potent synergistically induced apoptosis. In summary, our data suggest that XIAP expression is a poor prognostic factor in DLBCL and the XIAP-AKT relationship should be explored further as a potential therapeutic target in DLBCL.