Apoptotic death of hepatocytes, a contributor to many chronic and acute liver diseases, can be a consequence of overactivation of the immune system and is often mediated by TNFalpha. Injection with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus the transcriptional inhibitor D(+)-galactosamine (GalN) or mitogenic T cell activation causes fatal hepatocyte apoptosis in mice, which is mediated by TNFalpha, but the effector mechanisms remain unclear. Our analysis of gene-targeted mice showed that caspase-8 is essential for hepatocyte killing in both settings. Loss of Bid, the proapoptotic BH3-only protein activated by caspase-8 and essential for Fas ligand-induced hepatocyte killing, resulted only in a minor reduction of liver damage. However, combined loss of Bid and another BH3-only protein, Bim, activated by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK), protected mice from LPS+GalN-induced hepatitis. These observations identify caspase-8 and the BH3-only proteins Bid and Bim as potential therapeutic targets for treatment of inflammatory liver diseases.