An adaptive immune response implies expansion of activated T cells and subsequent elimination to maintain homeostasis in a process called activation-induced cell death. Some cells, however, differentiate into memory cells and ensure a strong secondary immune response. To analyze the apoptosis phenotype of memory T cells on a cellular and molecular level, we have established an in vitro model of T cell activation and generation of cells phenotypically and functionally similar to memory cells. These long-term cultured T cells show a CD95-resistant phenotype, although they are still sensitive towards TCR/CD3-mediated apoptosis. Biochemical analysis revealed that these cells shift from CD95 type I (direct signaling from the receptor) during the effector phase to CD95 type II cells (dependent on the mitochondrial amplification loop). Moreover, their mitochondria are protected, probably due to high expression levels of Bcl-x(L) and Bcl-2. Thus, our data suggest a mechanism how memory T cells acquire resistance towards bystander cell death via the CD95 system.