Apoptosis is a highly coordinated cellular suicide program crucial for metazoan health and diseases. Although its increasing importance in cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and AIDS led to intense research and a better understanding of apoptosis, many details of its regulation or the apoptotic phenotypes are poorly understood. The complex regulatory network and the often contradictory results obtained with human cell lines made application of an easier model system desirable. Apoptosis in yeast promises to provide a better understanding of the genetics of apoptosis. During the past 2 years, scientists were successful in identifying new cell-death regulators of humans, plants and fungi using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The finding of apoptotic phenotypes, even in protists, suggests that apoptosis developed in unicellular organisms long before the evolutionary separation between fungi, plants and metazoan animals occurred.