The long term goal of our research is to understand the regulation and execution of apoptosis, using the powerful genetic and molecular techniques available in Drosophila. Initially, we identified several genes which act as regulators of apoptosis during normal Drosophila development. The genes: reaper (rpr), grim, and head involution defective (hid) are clustered in a small region of the genome. Recent evidence suggests that these three genes act together to initiate apoptosis. Our current research is focused on dissecting how these genes activate the apoptotic program, and how their activity is regulated during development.