Multicellular organisms eliminate unwanted or damaged cells by cell death, a process essential to the maintenance of tissue homeostasis. Cell death is a tightly regulated event, whose alteration by excess or defect is involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases such as cancer, autoimmune syndromes, and neurodegenerative processes. Studies in model organisms, especially in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, have been crucial in identifying the key molecules implicated in the regulation and execution of programmed cell death. In contrast, the study of cell death in Drosophila melanogaster, often an excellent model organism, has identified regulators and mechanisms not obviously conserved in other metazoans. Recent molecular and cellular analyses suggest, however, that the mechanisms of action of the main programmed cell death regulators in Drosophila include a canonical mitochondrial pathway.