NF-kappaB/Rel transcription factors have recently emerged as crucial regulators of cell survival. Activation of NF-kappaB antagonizes programmed cell death (PCD) induced by tumor necrosis factor-receptors (TNF-Rs) and several other triggers. This prosurvival activity of NF-kappaB participates in a wide range of biological processes, including immunity, lymphopoiesis and development. It is also crucial for pathogenesis of various cancers, chronic inflammation and certain hereditary disorders. This participation of NF-kappaB in survival signaling often involves an antagonism of PCD triggered by TNF-R-family receptors, and is mediated through a suppression of the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a control of sustained activation of the Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) cascade. Effectors of this antagonistic activity of NF-kappaB on this ROS/JNK pathway have been recently identified. Indeed, further delineating the mechanisms by which NF-kappaB promotes cell survival might hold the key to developing new highly effective therapies for treatment of widespread human diseases.