Programmed cell death is essential for the maintenance of lymphocyte homeostasis and immune tolerance. Dendritic cells (DCs), the most efficient antigen-presenting cells, represent a small cell population in the immune system. However, DCs play major roles in the regulation of both innate and adaptive immune responses. Programmed cell death in DCs is essential for regulating DC homeostasis and consequently, the scope of immune responses. Interestingly, different DC subsets show varied turnover rates in vivo. The conventional DCs are relatively short-lived in most lymphoid organs, while plasmacytoid DCs are long-lived cells. Mitochondrion-dependent programmed cell death plays an important role in regulating spontaneous DC turnover. Antigen-specific T cells are also capable of killing DCs, thereby providing a mechanism for negative feedback regulation of immune responses. It has been shown that a surplus of DCs due to defects in programmed cell death leads to overactivation of lymphocytes and the onset of autoimmunity. Studying programmed cell death in DCs will shed light on the roles for DC turnover in the regulation of the duration and magnitude of immune responses in vivo and in the maintenance of immune tolerance.