The network of protein-protein interactions among the BCL-2 protein family plays a critical role in regulating cellular commitment to mitochondrial apoptosis. Anti-apoptotic BCL-2 proteins are considered promising targets for drug discovery and exciting clinical progress has stimulated intense investigations in the broader family. Here, we discuss recent developments in small molecules targeting anti-apoptotic proteins and alternative approaches to targeting BCL-2 family interactions. These studies advance our understanding of the role of BCL-2 family proteins in physiology and disease, providing unique tools for dissecting these functions. The BCL-2 family of proteins is a prime example of targeting protein-protein interactions and further chemical biology approaches will increase opportunities for novel targeted therapies in cancer, autoimmune and aging-associated diseases.