Cell proliferation, the balance between mitosis and apoptosis is the result of the continuous integration of a number of different signal transduction pathways stimulated in a cell at any given point in its life. Neuroblastoma cells regulate the switch between mitosis and death, according both to intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors, such as growth factor withdrawal and action of the vitamin A derivative, retinoic acid. In this review, we describe the balance of some factors regulating growth and death of human neuroblastoma cells in vitro. These dynamic studies are necessarily-performed on cell lines, which offer controlled conditions enabling the disection of the complex stimuli mediating survival and growth (IGF, trk, BDNF) and death (transglutaminase, free radicals, Bcl-2). Although the conclusions drawn may therefore not be directly applicable to tumour cells in vivo, the results herein discussed are of sufficient significance to warrant in vivo relevance.