Infections elicit diverse responses in the host that include activation of the innate immune system, inflammation and cell death. Pathogen-triggered cell death is manifested by various morphologies indicative of apoptosis, pyroptosis, oncosis or autophagic cell death. The question of whether cell death performs a physiologic function during infection is key to understanding host-pathogen interactions and pathogenesis, and devising targeted therapeutic strategies for infectious diseases. In this review, we examine the different modes of cell death employed by the host during infection, the strategies used by pathogens to manipulate the cell death process and the outcome of cell death, that is, whether it is protective for the host or on the contrary favorable for pathogen dissemination. The pathways leading to cell death by infection are discussed with a focus on the role of pattern recognition receptors in the activation of survival and death effectors.