© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.Nanomaterials have gained a rapid increase in use in a variety of applications that pertain to many aspects of human life. The majority of these innovations are centered on medical applications and a range of industrial and environmental uses ranging from electronics to environmental remediation. Despite the advantages of NPs, the knowledge of their toxicological behavior and their interactions with the cellular machinery that determines cell fate is extremely limited. This review is an attempt to summarize and increase our understanding of the mechanistic basis of nanomaterial interactions with the cellular machinery that governs cell fate and activity. We review the mechanisms of NP-induced necrosis, apoptosis and autophagy and potential implications of these pathways in nanomaterial-induced outcomes. Abbreviations: Ag, silver; CdTe, cadmium telluride; CNTs, carbon nanotubes; EC, endothelial cell; GFP, green fluorescent protein; GO, graphene oxide; GSH, glutathione; HUVECs, human umbilical vein endothelial cells; NP, nanoparticle; PEI, polyethylenimine; PVP, polyvinylpyrrolidone; QD, quantum dot; ROS, reactive oxygen species; SiO2, silicon dioxide; SPIONs, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles; SWCNT, single-walled carbon nanotubes; TiO2, titanium dioxide; USPION, ultra-small super paramagnetic iron oxide; ZnO, zinc oxide.