Transcription-independent modulation of signaling mediated by death receptors (DRs) has emerged as an important determinant of cell survival during both development and cellular homeostasis. Frequently, a given DR signal must be redirected rapidly either to inhibit or to potentiate the apoptotic response. This process requires immediate, protein-synthesis-independent modifications of the regulatory molecules involved. Numerous mechanisms have been shown to regulate DR responses without engaging the apoptosis-directing transcription machinery. These mechanisms involve key posttranslational modifications such as phosphorylation, ubiquitination and proteolytic degradation, all of which affect the activities of proteins at different levels in the DR signaling pathways. Changes in the organization of regulatory molecules and in their interactions with other factors also affect the DR signaling pathways. The balance between these modulatory signals rapidly decides the fate of a cell.