Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs) are endogenous molecules which foment inflammation and are associated with disorders in sepsis and cancer. Thus, therapeutically targeting DAMPs has potential to provide novel and effective treatments. When establishing anti-DAMP strategies, it is important not only to focus on the DAMPs as inflammatory mediators but also to take into account the underlying mechanisms of their release from cells and tissues. DAMPs can be released passively by membrane rupture due to necrosis/necroptosis, although the mechanisms of release appear to differ between the DAMPs. Other types of cell death, such as apoptosis, pyroptosis, ferroptosis and NETosis, can also contribute to DAMP release. In addition, some DAMPs can be exported actively from live cells by exocytosis of secretory lysosomes or exosomes, ectosomes, and activation of cell membrane channel pores. Here we review the shared and DAMP-specific mechanisms reported in the literature for high mobility group box 1, ATP, extracellular cold-inducible RNA-binding protein, histones, heat shock proteins, extracellular RNAs and cell-free DNA.