Malignant cells must circumvent endogenous cell death pathways to survive and develop into cancers. Acquired cell death resistance also sets up malignant cells to survive anticancer therapies. Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is an aggressive blood cancer characterized by high relapse rate and resistance to cytotoxic therapies. Recent collaborative profiling projects have led to a greater understanding of the 'fearful symmetry' of the genomic landscape of AML, and point to the development of novel potential therapies that can overcome factors linked to chemoresistance. We review here the most recent research in the genetics of AML and how these discoveries have led, or might lead, to therapies that specifically activate cell death pathways to substantially challenge this 'fearful' disease.