Inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) provide a critical barrier to inappropriate apoptotic cell death through direct binding and inhibition of caspases. We demonstrate that degradation of IAPs is an important mechanism for the initiation of apoptosis in vivo. Drosophila Morgue, a ubiquitin conjugase-related protein, promotes DIAP1 down-regulation in the developing retina to permit selective programmed cell death. Morgue complexes with DIAP1 in vitro and mediates DIAP1 degradation in a manner dependent on the Morgue UBC domain. Reaper (Rpr) and Grim, but not Hid, also promote the degradation of DIAP1 in vivo, suggesting that these proteins promote cell death through different mechanisms.