Ceramide generated in the cell membrane has been shown to be central for the induction of apoptosis by death receptors and many stress stimuli such as gamma-irradiation, UV-light or infection with pathogens. Ceramide reorganizes cell membranes and forms large ceramide-enriched membrane domains that serve the spatial and temporal organization of the cellular signalosome upon activation. Thus, ceramide-enriched membrane domains mediate clustering of CD95 and DR5 to facilitate apoptosis, and they are also critically involved in apoptosis after irradiation, UV-light and infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Since ceramide-enriched membrane domains amplify signals, their function is not restricted to the induction of apoptosis and it was shown that ceramide-enriched membrane domains are also involved in internalization of pathogens and the control of cytokine release from infected epithelial cells. Recent studies support the notion that changes of the ceramide metabolism are also critically involved in human diseases, for instance neurological disorders, cancer, infectious diseases and Wilson's disease.