Death receptor activation triggers recruitment of FADD, which via its death effector domain (DED) engages the DEDs of procaspase 8 and its inhibitor FLIP to form death-inducing signalling complexes (DISCs). The DEDs of FADD, FLIP and procaspase 8 interact with one another using two binding surfaces defined by α1/α4 and α2/α5 helices, respectively. Here we report that FLIP has preferential affinity for the α1/α4 surface of FADD, whereas procaspase 8 has preferential affinity for FADD's α2/α5 surface. These relative affinities contribute to FLIP being recruited to the DISC at comparable levels to procaspase 8 despite lower cellular expression. Additional studies, including assessment of DISC stoichiometry and functional assays, suggest that following death receptor recruitment, the FADD DED preferentially engages FLIP using its α1/α4 surface and procaspase 8 using its α2/α5 surface; these tripartite intermediates then interact via the α1/α4 surface of FLIP DED1 and the α2/α5 surface of procaspase 8 DED2.