Poly(ADP- ribosyl) ation is a reversible post-translational protein modification implicated in the regulation of a number of biological functions. Whereas an 18 member superfamily of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) enzymes synthesize poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR), a single protein, PAR glycohydrolase (PARG) is responsible for the catabolism of the polymer. PARP-1 accounts for more than 90% of the poly(ADP- ribosyl)ating capacity of the cells. PARP-1 activated by DNA breaks cleaves NAD+ into nicotinamide and ADP- ribose and uses the latter to synthesize long branching PAR polymers covalently attached to acceptor proteins including histones, DNA repair enzymes, transcription factors and PARP-1. Whereas activation of PARP-1 by mild genotoxic stimuli may facilitate DNA repair and cell survival, irreparable DNA damage triggers apoptotic or necrotic cell death. In apoptosis, early PARP activation may assist the apoptotic cascade [e.g. by stabilizing p53, by mediating the translocation of apoptosis inducing factor (AIF) from the mitochondria to the nucleus or by inhibiting early activation of DNases]. In most severe oxidative stress situations, excessive DNA damage causes over activation of PARP-1, which incapacitates the apoptotic machinery and switches the mode of cell death from apoptosis to necrosis. Besides serving as a cytotoxic mediator, PARP-1 is also involved in transcriptional regulation, most notably in the NFkB and AP-1 driven expression of inflammatory mediators. Pharmacological inhibition or genetic ablation of PARP-1 provided remarkable protection from tissue injury in various oxidative stress-related disease models ranging from stroke, diabetes, diabetic endothelial dysfunction, myocardial ischemia-reperfusion, shock, Parkinsons disease, arthritis, colitis to dermatitis and uveitis. These beneficial effects are attributed to inhibition of the PARP-1 mediated suicidal pathway and to reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines and other mediators (e.g. inducible nitric oxide synthase).