Apoptosis, molecularly regulated cell death, can be induced by a range of environmental, physical or chemical stresses, and is characterized by a sequence of precisely regulated events that culminate in the self-destruction of a cell. Fascinating biochemical and genetic parallels exist between the cell death pathways of different animal species. However, an even more highly conserved and evolutionarily ancient cellular response can be engaged as a consequence of stress, which functions to maintain cellular survival. This response is mediated by the heat-shock or stress proteins. This article discusses the functional interactions between the stress response and the apoptotic cell death pathway and how these might impact on determining cellular survival.