Fas is an apoptosis-signalling cell surface antigen that has been shown to trigger cell death upon specific ligand or antibody binding. Treatment of mice with an anti-Fas antibody causes fulminant hepatic failure due to massive apoptosis. To test a putative protective effect of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 protein, transgenic mice were generated to express the human bcl-2 gene product in hepatocytes. Early onset of massive hepatic apoptosis leading to death was observed in all nontransgenic mice treated with an anti-Fas antibody. By contrast, hepatic apoptosis was delayed and dramatically reduced in transgenic animals, yielding a 93% survival rate. These results demonstrate that Bcl-2 is able to protect from in vivo Fas-mediated cytotoxicity, and could be of significance for preventing fulminant hepatic failure due to viral hepatitis in humans.