Rapid growth and expansion of engineered nanomaterials will occur when the technology can be used safely. Quantum dots have excellent prospects in clinical applications, but the issue of toxicity has not yet been resolved. To enable their medical implementation, the effect on, and mechanisms in, live cells should be clearly known and predicted. A massive amount of experimental data dedicated to nanotoxicity has been accumulated to-date, but it lacks a logical structure. The current challenge is to organize existing knowledge into lucid biological and mathematical models. In our review we aim to describe the interplay of various cell death mechanisms triggered by quantum dots as a consequence of particle parameters and experimental conditions.