The flaccid paralyses characteristic of poliomyelitis are a direct consequence of the infection of motor neurons with poliovirus (PV). In PV-infected mice, motor neurons die by apoptosis. However, the mechanisms by which PV induces cell death in neurons remain unclear. Analyses of the apoptotic pathways induced by PV infection in several cell lines have demonstrated that mitochondria play a key role in PV-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, mitochondrial dysfunction results from an imbalance between pro- and anti-apoptotic pathways. We present here an overview of the many studies of PV-induced apoptosis carried out in recent years and discuss the contribution of these studies to our understanding of poliomyelitis.