The comparison of common strategies used by bacterial pathogens to overcome host defenses provides us with the opportunity to analyze the biology of pathogenicity, as well as point out the unique interactions between a particular pathogen and its host. Here we compare and contrast apoptosis induced by three enteric pathogens, Salmonella, Shigella, and Yersinia. We point out that all three enteric pathogens induce apoptosis in macrophages in vitro, but the proposed mechanisms are quite different. Yersinia induces apoptosis by inhibiting the translocation of the transcriptional activator, NF-kappaB, into the nucleus, which results in the suppression of TNFalpha production; whereas Salmonella- and Shigella-induced apoptosis depend on the activation of caspase-1 (casp-1). The result of casp-1 activation is to induce apoptosis as well as to process the proinflammatory cytokines, pro-IL-1beta and pro-IL18 into their mature bioactive forms. Thus, in contrast to Yersinia, Salmonella and Shigella-induced apoptosis results in a proinflammatory cascade.