This volume contains papers that were presented and discussed at The 1996 Interna- tional Symposium on Programmed Cell Death, which was held in the Shanghai Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences on September 8-12, 1996. Apoptosis has attracted great attention in the past several years. This is reflected in part by the exponential increase in the number of papers published on the subject. While several major scientific conferences have been held in recent years, this meeting repre- sents the first major international scientific meeting on programmed cell death held in Asia, where fast economic growth promises a bright future for both basic and applied re- search in biomedical sciences. We organized the meeting with the belief that such a gath- ering would foster a closer interaction between scientists from the West and those in Asia. Research on programmed cell death has expanded so extensively that no one meet- ing can cover all the important subjects related to apoptosis. The Shanghai meeting fo- cused on several key areas ranging from well-established ones, such as cell death in the immune system, to emerging ones, such as the role ofECM in regUlating cell fate. Specifi- cally, the subjects presented and discussed included programmed cell death during devel- opment, the regulation and biochemical mechanisms of lymphocyte apoptosis, the involvement of extracellular matrix and its remodeling in programmed cell death, genes that cause or prevent cell death, and the application of apoptosis toward cancer therapy.