Members of the inhibitor of apoptosis protein (IAP) family can inhibit caspases and cell death in a variety of insect and vertebrate systems. Drosophila IAP1 (DIAP1) inhibits cell death to facilitate normal embryonic development. Here, using RNA interference, we showed that down-regulation of DIAP1 is sufficient to induce cell death in Drosophila S2 cells. Although this cell death process was accompanied by elevated caspase activity, this activation was not essential for cell death. We found that DIAP1 depletion-induced cell death was strongly suppressed by a reduction in the Drosophila caspase DRONC or the Drosophila apoptotic protease-activating factor-1 (Apaf-1) homolog, Dark. RNA interference studies in Drosophila embryos also demonstrated that the action of Dark is epistatic to that of DIAP1 in this cell death pathway. The cell death caused by down-regulation of DIAP1 was accelerated by overexpression of DRONC and Dark, and a caspase-inactive mutant form of DRONC could functionally substitute the wild-type DRONC in accelerating cell death. These results suggest the existence of a novel mechanism for cell death signaling in Drosophila that is mediated by DRONC and Dark.