Several hundred thousand primordial follicles are present in the mammalian ovary, however, only a limited number develop to the pre-ovulatory stage, and then finally ovulate. The others, more than 99%, will be eliminated through a degenerative process called ‘atresia’. The endocrinological regulatory mechanisms involved in follicular development and atresia have been characterized to a large extent, but the precise temporal and molecular mechanisms involved in the regulation of these events have remained unknown. From many recent studies, it is suggested that the apoptosis in ovarian granulosa cells plays a crucial role in follicular atresia. Notably, death ligand–receptor interaction and subsequent intracellular signalling have been demonstrated to be the key mechanisms regulating granulosa cell apoptosis. In this review, we provide an overview of granulosa cell apoptosis regulated by death ligand–receptor signalling. The roles of death ligands and receptors [Fas ligand (FasL)–Fas, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)α–TNF receptor (TNFR), and TNFα-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL)–TRAIL receptor (TRAILR)] and intracellular death-signal mediators [Fas-associated death domain protein (FADD), TNF receptor 1-associated death domain protein (TRADD), caspases, apoptotic protease-activating factor 1 (Apaf1), TNFR-associated factor 2 (TRAF2), and cellular FLICE-like inhibitory protein (cFLIP), etc.] in granulosa cells will be discussed.