Caspases are cysteine proteases and potent inducers of apoptosis. Their activation and activity is therefore tightly regulated. There are several mechanisms by which caspases can be activated but one key pathway involves release of holo cytochrome c from mitochondria into the cytoplasm. Cytoplasmic holo cytochrome c binds to apoptotic protease activating factor-1 (Apaf-1), driving the formation of an Apaf-1 oligomer (the apoptosome) which in turn binds and activates caspase-9. Previously we showed that the apo form of cytochrome c (lacking heme) can bind Apaf-1 and block both holo-dependent caspase activation in cell extracts and Bax-induced apoptosis in cells. Here we tested the ability of apo cytochrome c to inhibit caspase-9 activation induced by recombinant Apaf-1. Furthermore, using purified proteins and size exclusion chromatography we show that apo cytochrome c prevents holo cytochrome c-dependent apoptosome formation.