A retrospective look at the basis of human disease pathogenesis almost always reveals an apoptotic component that either contributes to disease progression or accounts for it. What makes this field particularly exciting is the breadth of therapeutic opportunities that are on offer. The pace of apoptosis research has raised expectations that therapeutics will follow soon. But many of the organizations that are best placed to take advantage of these discoveries consider the ability to modulate the life or death of a cell for the purpose of disease treatment as perhaps being 'too good to be true'. Nevertheless, practical therapeutics that modulate apoptosis will no doubt appear in the clinic or on the shelf in the next few years.