Molecular techniques in ophthalmology and related subjects have led in recent years to the identification of many genes expressed in photoreceptor cells and have allowed the characterization of mutations leading to distinct phenotypes of retinal degeneration. Programmed cell death, or apoptosis, has been identified as the final common pathway in this disease group. A cascade of events has evolved, starting with specific stimuli and developing over different mediators and regulators (e.g., Fas ligand, proteins of the Bcl-2 family, p53) to effector enzymes (caspases). The ever increasing data of this pathway serve as a basis for new therapeutic strategies. We review the current knowledge on apoptosis in retinal degeneration.