Apoptosis, a genetically programmed form of cell death, contributes to myocyte cell loss in a variety of cardiac pathologies, including cardiac failure and those related to ischemia/reperfusion injury. The apoptotic program is complex, involving both pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins, and apoptosis occurs when the equilibrium between these opposing factors is perturbed. Some of these factors are intrinsic to the apoptotic pathway, such as the pro- and anti-apoptotic members of the Bcl2 family. Other, extrinsic, cellular factors can also modify the outcome of the response to an apoptotic stimulus. In this review, we have focused on some of these extrinsic factors, such as STAT-1 as a pro-apoptotic agent and the urocortins and Bag-1 as anti-apoptotic factors, since these may be potential therapeutic targets. In addition, we discuss the profound cytoprotective effects of the antibiotic, minocycline.