Radiation-induced apoptosis is reviewed in terms of: (a) the identification of apoptotic and necrotic cells, (b) observations in vitro and in vivo of radiation-induced apoptosis, (c) genes controlling apoptosis, (d) evidence that the target may be the plasma membrane or nuclear DNA, (e) quantitative comparisons of apoptotic death and reproductive (clonogenic) death, (f) the importance of radiation-induced apoptosis in radiotherapy, and (g) studies of radiation-induced apoptosis that are needed. High priority should be placed on determining the molecular pathways that are important in the expression and modulation of radiation-induced apoptosis. Specifically, the events that modulate the apoptosis that occurs in interphase before the cell can divide should be distinguished from the events before division that modulate the misrepair of DNA damage, that results in chromosomal aberrations observed in mitotic cells, which in turn cause the progeny of the dividing cell with aberrations to die by either apoptosis or necrosis. Then, molecular events that determine whether a cell that divides with or without a chromosomal aberration will produce progeny that apoptose or necrose need to be identified. These considerations are important for determining how modulation of radiation-induced apoptosis will affect the ultimate clonogenic survival, and possibly genomic instability in the surviving progeny.