Ingestion by professional or amateur phagocytes is the fate of most cells that undergo apoptosis. Studies in both Caenorhabditis elegans and mammals are now converging to reveal some of the key mechanisms and consequences of this removal process. At least seven corpse removal genes in nematodes have mammalian equivalents, and represent elements of signaling pathways involved in uptake. In mammals, a wide variety of apoptotic cell recognition receptors has been implicated and appears to be divided into two categories, involved in tethering the apoptotic cell or triggering an uptake mechanism related to macropinocytosis. Apoptotic cell removal is normally efficient and non-inflammatory. By contrast, the process may become subverted by parasites to yield a more favorable growth environment, or in other cases lead to fibrosis. Removal may also clinch the apoptotic process itself in cells not yet completely committed to death.