Apoptosis is a morphologically stereotyped form of cell death, prevalent in multicellular organisms, by which single cells are deleted from the midst of living tissues. Recognition of the cellular corpses and their removal by phagocytosis occurs without disturbance to tissue architecture or function and without initiating inflammation. Apoptosis is regulable and is of fundamental importance to tissue development and homeostasis. Cellular susceptibility to apoptosis is determined by a variety of signals, of both extracellular and internal origin, including proliferative status. Dysregulated apoptosis is important in the pathogenesis of several important human diseases including neoplasia, and recognition of the defects involved is prompting development of new therapeutic strategies.