Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD). However, little is known about the role of TNF receptors (TNF-R) in this disease. Here, we found that TNF-R2 (in contrast to TNF-R1) was significantly up-regulated on lamina propria and peripheral blood T cells in CD compared to control patients. To directly test the functional role of TNF-R2 in Th1-mediated experimental colitis in vivo, we took advantage of transgenic animals overexpressing TNF-R2 in T cells. Reconstitution of SCID mice with CD4+ CD62L+ T cells from TNF-R2 transgenic mice led to an earlier wasting syndrome, a more severe colitis and augmented Th1 cytokine production than reconstitution with cells from wild-type littermates. In addition, TUNEL staining revealed a significantly decreased apoptosis rate of lamina propria mononuclear cells in mice reconstituted with TNF-R2 transgenic T cells compared to mice reconstituted with wild-type T cells. In summary, our data suggest a critical regulatory role of TNF-R2 signaling for disease exacerbation in Th1-mediated chronic colitis. Taken together with the increased expression of TNF-R2 in CD, selective targeting of TNF-R2 signaling thus emerges as a potentially novel approach to the treatment of CD.