Apoptosis of inflammatory cells plays a crucial role in the recovery from autoimmune CNS disease. However, the underlying mechanisms of apoptosis induction are as yet ill-defined. Here we report on the neuronal expression of FasL and its potential function in inducing T-cell apoptosis. Using a combination of facial nerve axotomy and passive transfer encephalomyelitis, the fate of CD4+ encephalitogenic T cells engineered to express the gene for green fluorescent protein was followed. FasL gene transcripts and FasL protein were detected in neurons by in sit-hybridization and immunohistochemistry. T cells infiltrating preferentially the injured brain parenchyma were found in the immediate vicinity of FasL expressing neurons and even inside their perikarya. In contrast to neurons, T cells rapidly underwent apoptosis. In co-cultures of hippocampal nerve cells and CD4 T lymphocytes, we confirmed expression of FasL in neurons and concomitant induction of T-cell death. Antibodies blocking neuronal FasL were shown to have a protective effect on T-cell survival. Thus, FasL expression by neurons in neuroinflammatory diseases may constitute a pivotal mechanism underlying apoptosis of encephalitogenic T cells.