The involvement of Fas and caspase activation during naive T cell proliferation is still controversial. To explore this paradox, we used antigenic variation of PCC 88-104 peptide to dissect pathways of TCR signaling leading to cell proliferation. We demonstrated that strong TCR stimulation but not weak TCR stimulation induced T cell proliferation and was dependent on IETD- but independent of DEVD-specific caspases. In addition, altered TCR ligand induced T cell proliferation in the absence of IETD-, DEVD-specific caspase activities and Fas ligand expression. However, AND-TCR-transgenic mice in lpr/lpr background generated recently have no defect T cell proliferation after stimulation by the agonist peptide, demonstrating that antigen-induced T cell proliferation is independent of Fas-activation pathways. Thus, Fas-independent caspase activation is tightly regulated by the strength of antigenic stimulation during T cell proliferation. These data reveal a novel facet of antigenic caspase regulation during naive CD4 T cell proliferation and provide insights into the function of caspases during T cell homeostasis.