Immunological responses activated by pathogen recognition come in many guises. The proliferation, differentiation and recruitment of immune cells, and the production of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines are central to lifelong immunity. Cell death serves as a key function in the resolution of innate and adaptive immune responses. It also coordinates cell-intrinsic effector functions to restrict infection. Necrosis was formally considered a passive form of cell death or a consequence of pathogen virulence factor expression, and necrotic tissue is frequently associated with infection. However, there is now emerging evidence that points to a role for regulated forms of necrosis, such as pyroptosis and necroptosis, driving inflammation and shaping the immune response.