The classical type of programmed cell death is characterized by its dependence on de novo RNA and protein synthesis and morphological features of apoptosis. We confirmed that stimulated 2B4.11 (a murine T-cell hybridoma) and interleukin-3 (IL-3)-deprived LyD9 (a murine haematopoietic progenitor cell line) died by the classical type of programmed cell death. Assuming that common biochemical pathways might be involved in the deaths of 2B4.11 and LyD9, we isolated the PD-1 gene, a novel member of the immunoglobulin gene superfamily, by using subtractive hybridization technique. The predicted PD-1 protein has a variant form of the consensus sequence found in cytoplasmic tails of signal transducing polypeptides associated with immune recognition receptors. The PD-1 gene was activated in both stimulated 2B4.11 and IL-3-deprived LyD9 cells, but not in other death-induced cell lines that did not show the characteristic features of the classical programmed cell death. Expression of the PD-1 mRNA in mouse was restricted to the thymus and increased when thymocyte death was augmented by in vivo injection of anti-CD3 antibody. These results suggest that activation of the PD-1 gene may be involved in the classical type of programmed cell death.