The air that we breathe contains nearly 21% oxygen, most of which is utilized by mitochondria during respiration. While we cannot live without it, it was perceived as a bane to aerobic organisms due to the generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen metabolites by mitochondria and other cellular compartments. However, this dogma was challenged when these species were demonstrated to modulate cellular responses through altering signaling pathways. In fact, since this discovery of a dichotomous role of reactive species in immune function and signal transduction, research in this field grew at an exponential pace and the pursuit for mechanisms involved began. Due to a significant number of review articles present on the reactive species mediated cell death, we have focused on emerging novel pathways such as autophagy, signaling and maintenance of the mitochondrial network. Despite its role in several processes, increased reactive species generation has been associated with the origin and pathogenesis of a plethora of diseases. While it is tempting to speculate that anti-oxidant therapy would protect against these disorders, growing evidence suggests that this may not be true. This further supports our belief that these reactive species play a fundamental role in maintenance of cellular and tissue homeostasis. © 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.