Immunogenicity depends on two key factors: antigenicity and adjuvanticity. The presence of exogenous or mutated antigens explains why infected cells and malignant cells can initiate an adaptive immune response provided that the cells also emit adjuvant signals as a consequence of cellular stress and death. Several infectious pathogens have devised strategies to control cell death and limit the emission of danger signals from dying cells, thereby avoiding immune recognition. Similarly, cancer cells often escape immunosurveillance owing to defects in the molecular machinery that underlies the release of endogenous adjuvants. Here, we review current knowledge on the mechanisms that underlie the activation of immune responses against dying cells and their pathophysiological relevance.