Apoptosis is implicated in the life cycle of the malaria parasite in mosquitoes. The genome project for the primary malaria vector Anopheles gambiae showed a significant expansion of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) and caspase gene families in comparison with Drosophila. However, because of extensive sequence divergence, no orthologue was identified for the reaper/grim-like IAP antagonist genes that have a pivotal role in cell death regulation in Drosophila. Using a customized searching strategy, we identified michelob_x(mx), a gene not predicted by the genome project, as the missing IAP antagonist in the An. gambiae and other mosquito genomes. Mx has a highly conserved amino-terminal IAP-binding motif. Expression of Mx induces rapid cell death in insect cell lines and is a potent tissue ablator in vivo. Its proapoptotic activity is totally dependent on the IAP-binding motif. Like reaper in Drosophila, mx is transcriptionally induced by ultraviolet irradiation to mediate cell death.