Apoptosis or programmed cell death is a genetically controlled cellular process wherein a cell will commit suicide or will be murdered by another cell in response to specific physiological signals. Although the circumstances in which cells undergo apoptosis and the phenotypic changes associated with the death process have been studied for many years, interest in the field has exploded in the last two years in large part because gene products controlling apoptosis have been identified. Investigators can now begin to elucidate the pathways and mechanisms involved in the cell death process. It is apparent even at this early stage that the control of apoptosis has a pivotal role in normal development and loss of this control leads to disease. Some of the genes regulating apoptosis are oncogenese and tumor suppressor genes, providing a link between dysregulation of apoptosis and cancer. Others are encoded by viruses indicating that subversion of apoptosis in an aspect of the pathology of many viral infections. The importance of apoptosis in normal development and differentiation has become universally apparent from studies with transgenic mice with either gene knock out or extopic expression of genes controlling apoptosis. Furthermore, genes controlling apoptosis are essential for normal development in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila melanogaster, and some of the same functions are conserved in humans. Apoptosis is thus a highly evolutionarily conserved process essential for normal growth and differentiation of probably every animal from worms and flies to man. Finally, a clear connection between the failure to properly regulate apoptosis with the development of many disease states has been realized. Not only cancer but also autoimmune disease and numerous neurodegenerative diseases are associated with loss of control of apoptosis. Interest in apoptosis is, therefore, intense and widespread. The field of """"""""Apoptosis"""""""" actually consists of a very diverse group whose interest span invertebrate to mammalian developmental biology, oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, immunology and inflammation, virology, biochemistry, structural biology, cell cycle control, and transcription. The objective of she Programmed Cell Death Conference is to bring together researchers working in these diverse aspects of apoptosis. The ultimate intention is to create a meeting environment suitable for the exchange of information and ideas which will hopefully foster advancement of the field toward the identification of the biochemical and molecular events controlling apoptosis.