Caspases are an evolutionary conserved family of cysteine proteases that are centrally involved in cell death and inflammation responses. A wealth of foundational insight into the molecular mechanisms that control caspase activation has emerged in recent years. Important advancements include the identification of additional inflammasome platforms and pathways that regulate activation of inflammatory caspases; the discovery of gasdermin D as the effector of pyroptosis and interleukin (IL)-1 and IL-18 secretion; and the existence of substantial crosstalk between inflammatory and apoptotic initiator caspases. A better understanding of the mechanisms regulating caspase activation has supported initial efforts to modulate dysfunctional cell death and inflammation pathways in a suite of communicable, inflammatory, malignant, metabolic, and neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we review current understanding of caspase biology with a prime focus on the inflammatory caspases and outline important topics for future experimentation. Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.