Nuclear factor kappa enhancer binding protein (NF-kappaB) regulates diverse biological processes including immunity, inflammation, and apoptosis. A vast array of cellular stimuli converges on NF-kappaB, and ubiquitination plays an essential role in the coordination of these signals to regulate NF-kappaB activity. At least three steps in NF-kappaB activation directly involve ubiquitination: proteasomal degradation of inhibitor of NF-kappaB (IkappaB), processing of NF-kappaB precursors, and activation of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta-activated kinase (TAK1) and IkappaB kinase (IKK) complexes. In this review, we discuss recent advances in the identification and characterization of ubiquitination and deubiquitination machinery that regulate NF-kappaB. Particular emphasis is given to proteasome-independent functions of ubiquitin, specifically its role in the activation of protein kinase complexes and in coordination of cell survival and apoptosis signals downstream of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha).