Cells depend for their survival on stimulation by trophic factors and other prosurvival signals, the withdrawal of which induces apoptosis, both via the loss of antiapoptotic signaling and the activation of proapoptotic signaling via specific receptors. These receptors, dubbed dependence receptors, activate apoptotic pathways following the withdrawal of trophic factors and other supportive stimuli. Such receptors may feature in developmental cell death, carcinogenesis (including metastasis), neurodegeneration, and possibly subapoptotic events such as neurite retraction and somal atrophy. Mechanistic studies of dependence receptors suggest that these receptors form ligand-dependent complexes that include specific caspases. Complex formation in the absence of ligand leads to caspase activation by a mechanism that is typically dependent on caspase cleavage of the receptor itself, releasing proapoptotic peptides. Cellular dependence receptors, considered in the aggregate, may thus form a system of molecular integration, analogous to the electrical integration system provided by dendritic arbors in the nervous system.