In the present study we demonstrate the existence of two apoptotic patterns in Drosophila nurse cells during oogenesis. One is developmentally regulated and normally occurs at stage 12 and the other is stage-specific and is sporadically observed at stages 7 and 8 of abnormally developed follicles. The apoptotic manifestation of the first pattern begins at stage 11 and is marked by a perinuclear rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton and the development of extensive lobes and engulfments of the nurse cell nuclei located proximal to the oocyte. Consequently, at late stage 12 (12C), half of the nurse cell nuclei exhibit condensed chromatin, while at late stage 13 all the nuclei have fragmented DNA, as it is clearly shown by TUNEL assay. Finally, the apoptotic vesicles that are formed during stage 13, are phagocytosed by the neighboring follicle cells and at stage 14 the nurse cell nuclear remnants can be easily detected within the adjacent follicle cell phagosomes. In the second sporadic apoptotic pattern, all the nurse cell nuclei are highly condensed with fragmented DNA, accompanied by a completely disorganized actin cytoskeleton. When we induced apoptosis in Drosophila follicles through an etoposide and staurosporine in vitro treatment, we observed a similar pattern of stage-specific cell death at stages 7 and 8. These observations suggest a possible protective mechanism throughout Drosophila oogenesis that results in apoptosis of abnormal, damaged or spontaneously mutated follicles before they reach maturity.