Leaf senescence is a hiphly-controlled sequence of events comprising the final stage of development. Cells remain viable during the process and new gene expression is required. There is some similarity between senescence in plants and programmed cell death in animals. In this review, different classes of senescence-related genes are defined and progress towards isolating such genes is reported. A range of internal and external factors which appear to cause leaf senescence is considered and various models for the mechanism of senescence- initiation are described. The current understanding of senescence at the wrganelle and molecular levels is presented. Finally, same ideas are mooted as to why senescence occurs and why it should be studied further.