Mice homozygous for lpr (lymphoproliferation) or gld (generalized lymphoproliferative disease) develop lymphadenopathy and suffer from autoimmune disease. The lpr mice have a mutation in a cell-surface protein, Fas, that mediates apoptosis. Fas ligand (FasL) is a tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-related type II membrane protein and binds to Fas. Here, mouse Fasl gene was isolated and localized to the gld region of mouse chromosome 1. Activated splenocytes from gld mice express Fasl mRNA. However, FasL in gld mice carries a point mutation in the C-terminal region, which is highly conserved among members of the TNF family. The recombinant gld FasL expressed in COS cells could not induce apoptosis in cells expressing Fas. These results indicate that lpr and gld are mutations in Fas and Fasl, respectively, and suggest important roles of the Fas system in development of T cells as well as cytotoxic T lymphocyte-mediated cytotoxicity.