Programmed cell death (PCD) is a genetically controlled process described both in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Even if it is clear that PCD occurs in plants, in response to various developmental and environmental stimuli, the signalling pathways involved in the triggering of this cell suicide remain to be characterized. In this review, the main similarities and differences in the players involved in plant and animal PCD are outlined. Particular attention is paid to the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) as key inducers of PCD in plants. The involvement of different kinds of ROS, different sites of ROS production, as well as their interaction with other molecules, is crucial in activating PCD in response to specific stimuli. Moreover, the importance is stressed on the balance between ROS production and scavenging, in various cell compartments, for the activation of specific steps in the signalling pathways triggering this cell suicide process. The review focuses on the complexity of the interplay between ROS and antioxidant molecules and enzymes in determining the most suitable redox environment required for the occurrence of different forms of PCD.