Plants cope with pathogen attacks by using mechanisms of resistance that rely both on preformed protective defenses and on inducible defenses. The latter are the most well studied, and progress is being made in determining which induced responses are responsible for limiting pathogen growth. Many plant-pathogen interactions are accompanied by plant cell death. Recent evidence suggests that this cell death is often programmed and results from an active process on the part of the host. The review considers the roles and possible mechanisms of plant cell death in response to pathogens.