Macrophages can respond to microbial infections with programmed cell death. The major cell death pathways of apoptosis, pyroptosis and necroptosis, are tightly regulated to ensure adequate immune reactions to virulent and persistent invaders. Macrophage death eliminates the replicative niche of intracellular pathogens and induces immune attack. Not surprisingly, successful pathogens have evolved strategies to modulate macrophage cell death pathways to ensure microbial survival and replication. Uncontrolled macrophage death can also lead to tissue damage, which may augment bacterial dissemination and pathology. In this review, we highlight how pathogens hijack macrophage cell death signals to promote microbial survival and immune evasion.