Caspases play a central role in apoptosis, a well-studied pathway of programmed cell death. Other programs of death potentially involving necrosis and autophagy may exist, but their relation to apoptosis and mechanisms of regulation remains unclear. We define a new molecular pathway in which activation of the receptor-interacting protein (a serine-threonine kinase) and Jun amino-terminal kinase induced cell death with the morphology of autophagy. Autophagic death required the genes ATG7 and beclin 1 and was induced by caspase-8 inhibition. Clinical therapies involving caspase inhibitors may arrest apoptosis but also have the unanticipated effect of promoting autophagic cell death.