Mechanisms that regulate apoptosis in a temporal and lineage-specific manner remain poorly understood. The COE (Collier/Olf/EBF) transcription factors have been implicated in the development of many cell types, including neurons. Here, we show that the sole Caenorhabditis elegans COE protein, UNC-3, together with a histone acetyltransferase, CBP-1/P300, specifies lineage-specific apoptosis and certain aspects of neurite trajectory. During embryogenesis, the RID progenitor cell gives rise to the RID neuron and RID sister cell; the latter undergoes apoptosis shortly after cell division upon expression of the pro-apoptotic gene egl-1. We observe UNC-3 expression in the RID progenitor, and the absence of UNC-3 results in the failure of the RID lineage to express a Pegl-1::GFP reporter and in the survival of the RID sister cell. Lastly, UNC-3 interacts with CBP-1, and cbp-1 mutants exhibit a similar RID phenotype to unc-3. Thus, in addition to playing a role in neuronal terminal differentiation, UNC-3 is a cell lineage-specific regulator of apoptosis.