Programmed cell death (PCD) is essential for the removal of unwanted cells and is critical for both restricting cell numbers and for tissue patterning during development. Components of the cell death machinery are remarkably conserved through evolution, from worms to mammals. Central to the PCD process is the family of cysteine proteases, known as caspases, which are activated by death-inducing signals. Comparisons between C. elegans and mammalian PCD have shown that there is additional complexity in the regulation of PCD in mammals. The fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, is proving an ideal genetically tractable model organism, of intermediary complexity between C. elegans and mammals, in which to study the intricacies of PCD. Here, we review the literature on PCD during Drosophila development, highlighting the methods used in these studies.