Caspases are a family of endoproteases that provide critical links in cell regulatory networks controlling inflammation and cell death. The activation of these enzymes is tightly controlled by their production as inactive zymogens that gain catalytic activity following signaling events promoting their aggregation into dimers or macromolecular complexes. Activation of apoptotic caspases results in inactivation or activation of substrates, and the generation of a cascade of signaling events permitting the controlled demolition of cellular components. Activation of inflammatory caspases results in the production of active proinflammatory cytokines and the promotion of innate immune responses to various internal and external insults. Dysregulation of caspases underlies human diseases including cancer and inflammatory disorders, and major efforts to design better therapies for these diseases seek to understand how these enzymes work and how they can be controlled.