Pattern recognition receptors (PRR), immune sensors that discriminate self from non-self, link innate to adaptive immunity. PRR are involved in microbe internalization by phagocytes (soluble PRR and endocytic receptors) and/or cell activation (signaling PRR). PRR also recognize dying cells (i.e. modified self). Apoptotic cell recognition involves soluble bridging molecules (e.g. pentraxins) and endocytic receptors (e.g. scavenger receptors, the CD91-calreticulin complex). Apoptotic cells induce an immunosuppressive signal, avoiding the initiation of an autoimmune response. By contrast, necrotic cells, via the release of stimulatory molecules [heat shock protein (HSP), high-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1)], activate immune cells. This review summarizes the PRR involved in the recognition of dying cells and the consequences on the outcome of the immune response directed against dying cell antigens.