The role of the abl oncogene family in cellular transformation has been well established, but knowledge of its role in apoptosis is limited. Recent studies demonstrate that it may act as a suppressor of apoptosis in certain circumstances. The growth factor independence conferred on IL-3 dependent myeloid progenitor cell lines following v-Abl transformation is due to the suppressive effects of this oncogene on apoptosis. Similarly, inhibition of the deregulated activity of the p210(bcr-abl) protein in both myeloid progenitor lines and CML granulocytes has proven effective in reversing resistance to apoptosis in such cells. The Bcr-Abl fusion protein might therefore promote myeloid expansion by suppression of apoptotic cell death rather than through promoting proliferation. While oncogenic forms of Abl appear to be anti-apoptotic, the function of c-Abl remains elusive. Through the elucidation of the roles in cell growth and survival of the Abl family members we may gain valuable insights into the regulation of apoptosis and the mechanisms of oncogenesis.