Inhibitors of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (statins), the rate-limiting enzyme of the mevalonate biosynthetic pathway, are currently the leading prescription drugs worldwide. Programmed cell death (apoptosis) is a powerful physiological regulator of cellular development, function and dynamics. Statins are known to induce cellular apoptosis in vitro; however, the clinical relevance of this action remains controversial. This paper draws from 15 years' worth of research to explore the impact of statin treatment on cell fate, as represented by the interlinked processes of cellular growth, differentiation and apoptosis. In particular, I outline our current understanding of the pertinent molecular mechanisms; and discuss the evidence for clinical relevance of statin-induced apoptosis.