Left ventricular (LV) remodeling and heart failure (HF) complicate acute myocardial infarction (AMI) even weeks to months after the initial insult. Apoptosis may represent an important pathophysiologic mechanism causing progressive myocardiocyte loss and LV dilatation even late after AMI. This review will discuss the role of apoptosis according to findings in animal experimental data and observational studies in humans in order to assess clinical relevance, determinants, and mechanisms of myocardial apoptosis and potential therapeutic implications. More complete definition of the impact of myocardiocyte loss on prognosis and of the mechanisms involved may lead to improved understanding of cardiac remodeling and possibly improved patients' care. Mitochondrial damage and bcl-2 to bax balance play a central role in ischemia-dependent apoptosis while angiotensin II and beta(1)-adrenergic-stimulation may be major causes of receptor-mediated apoptosis. Benefits due to treatment with ACE-inhibitors and beta-blockers appear to be in part due to reduced myocardial apoptosis. Moreover, infarct-related artery patency late after AMI may be a major determinant of myocardial apoptosis and clinical benefits deriving from an open artery late post AMI (the "open artery hypothesis") may be, at least in part, due to reduced myocardiocyte loss.