Fas ligand (FasL) is a membrane-type cytokine belonging to the TNF family, and induces apoptosis through its cell-surface receptor, Fas. To determine the cell types that express FasL, various mouse tissues and cell lines were examined by Northern hybridization using a mouse FasL cDNA as a probe. Among tissues, lymphoid organs (thymus, lymph node, spleen), lung, and small intestine express low levels of FasL mRNA, suggesting the role of FasL in the general immune system and mucosal immunity. The testis expressed FasL mRNA most abundantly; however, the size of FasL mRNA in the testis was slightly shorter than those in other tissues. Distribution of FasL mRNA in a panel of cell lines indicated that the FasL expression is rather restricted to the cells of T cell lineage. Activation of the splenocytes with the T cell activators such as PMA and ionomycin, Con A, anti-CD3, or even IL-2 alone induced the expression of the FasL. CD8+ splenocytes expressed the FasL more abundantly than did the CD4+ splenocytes upon activation by Con A and IL-2. Among CD4+ CTL cell lines, the FasL was expressed in all Th1 and Th0, and some Th2 clones.