Chronic renal failure (CRF) is often complicated by lymphopenia, which may be partly responsible for immune deficiency. We hypothesized that lymphopenia in CRF might result from apoptosis of T cells in vivo. To elucidate the involvement of Fas antigen which mediates apoptosis, we analyzed Fas expression on peripheral blood T cells in uremic non-dialyzed (non-HD) patients and hemodialysis (HD) patients. T cells from both uremic groups expressed Fas with higher intensity than control T cells. When two uremic groups were compared, Fas intensity on T cells was significantly higher in non-HD patients than in patients on HD. Moreover, uremic T cells were shown to undergo accelerated apoptosis when cultured in vitro, in correlation with Fas expression. Our results suggest that T cells in CRF may undergo apoptosis by the Fas system and that hemodialysis treatment has beneficial effects in the light of the inhibition of T cell apoptosis.