Apoptosis, one of the best-studied forms of programmed cell death processes, plays an important role during the development and life-cycle of most multicellular organisms. The mechanisms underlying the initiation and manifestation of apoptotic cell death are the focus of the most recent cell death research. Generally, it is believed that cells are eliminated via a highly ordered and controlled program. This program might consist of the successive activation of unique apoptosis-specific genes, which are solely involved in the regulation of the programmed cell death. However, more and more evidence is accumulating that novel genes are not activated or induced during apoptosis, but rather many well-known genes previously described for their roles in processes such as proliferation and differentiation and belonging, for example, to the protein families of immediate-early genes and transcription factors become activated. The death-specific feature is achieved thereby by the extent, combination, and specific timing of gene expression. The involvement of the three different transcription factors glucocorticoid receptor (GR), nur77, and activator protein 1 (AP-1) in such a scenario is the focus of this review.