The pathway to cell death in Caenorhabditis elegans is well established. In cells undergoing apoptosis, the Bcl-2 homology domain 3 (BH3)-only protein EGL-1 binds to CED-9 at the mitochondrial membrane to cause the release of CED-4, which oligomerises and facilitates the activation of the caspase CED-3. However, despite many studies, the biophysical features of the CED-4/CED-9 complex have not been fully characterised. Here, we report the purification of a soluble and stable 2 : 2 heterotetrameric complex formed by recombinant CED-4 and CED-9 coexpressed in bacteria. Consistent with previous studies, synthetic peptides corresponding to the BH3 domains of worm BH3-only proteins (EGL-1, CED-13) dissociate CED-4 from CED-9, but not from the gain-of-function CED-9 (G169E) mutant. Surprisingly, the ability of worm BH3 domains to dissociate CED-4 was specific since mammalian BH3-only proteins could not do so.