CD154 (CD40-ligand, gp39), expressed on activated T cells, is crucial in T cell-dependent immune responses and may be involved in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis (MS). We studied cerebro-spinal fluid and peripheral blood T cell expression of CD154 in MS by flow cytometry. Patients with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) had constitutive CD154 expression on CD4 and CD8 T cells in blood. Constitutive CD154 expression was not observed in patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) or clinically isolated syndromes (CIS) suggestive of demyelinating disease. After ex vivo activation CD154 was, however, expressed on a higher percentage of T cells from patients with CIS or RRMS than from healthy control subjects. These results suggest involvement of CD154 in the pathogenesis of MS, and the shift from a relapsing-remitting to a secondary progressive disease course may be associated with constitutive, systemic CD154 expression.