c-myc was discovered as the cellular homologue of the transduced oncogene of several avian retroviruses. The gene encodes a transcription factor, which forms a heteromeric protein complex with a partner protein termed Max. In mammalian cells, Myc is a central regulator of cell proliferation and links external signals to the cell cycle machinery. Myc also induces cells to undergo apoptosis, unless specific signals provided either by cytokines or by oncogenes block the apoptotic pathway. Recent progress sheds light both on the factors regulating the function and expression of Myc and on the downstream targets in the cell cycle. Together, these findings suggest the existence of a novel signal transduction pathway regulating both apoptosis and proliferation.