Ectodysplasin (Eda) and its receptor (Edar) are required for normal development of several ectodermal derivatives including hair follicles (HFs). Here, we show that during the murine hair cycle the expression of Eda A1, Edar, Edaradd, and TRAF6 transcripts are minimal in the resting phase and maximal during HF transition from active growth to regression (catagen). Eda A1 mRNA and Edar proteins were expressed in the hair matrix and outer and inner root sheaths of anagen HFs. During catagen, Eda A1 mRNA and Edar protein were expressed in the outer and inner root sheaths and later in the secondary hair germ. Catagen development accompanied by increased apoptosis in the outer root sheath was significantly accelerated in downless mice or after treatment of wild-type mice by a fusion protein that inhibits Edar signaling, compared with the corresponding controls. Microarray, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemical analyses of skin of downless mice revealed a strong decrease of expression of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), compared with the controls, suggesting XIAP as a target for Edar signaling. Thus, our data demonstrate that in addition to its well-established role in HF morphogenesis, Edar signaling is also involved in hair cycle control and regulates apoptosis in HF keratinocytes during catagen.