A genomic interval at 75C1,2 is required for programmed cell death in Drosophila. We identified a new activator of apoptosis, grim, which maps between two previously identified cell death genes in this region reaper (rpr) and head involution defective (hid). Expression of grim RNA coincided with the onset of programmed cell death at all stages of embryonic development, whereas ectopic induction of grim triggered extensive apoptosis in both transgenic animals and in cell culture. Cell killing by grim was blocked by coexpression of p35, a viral product that inactivates ICE-like proteases, and did not require the functions of rpr or hid. The predicted grim protein shares an amino-terminal motif in common with rpr. However, grim was sufficient to elicit apoptosis in at least one context, where rpr was not. The grim gene product might thus function in a parallel circuit of cell death signaling that ultimately activates a common set of downstream apoptotic effectors.