Fas, a type I membrane receptor protein, transduces a signal culminating in apoptosis after binding to the Fas ligand. Information regarding the expression of Fas in nonlymphoid tissues, although limited, suggests a role for Fas in epithelial progenitor cell populations. In this paper, we provide several lines of evidence indicating that the progenitor cell of the alveolus, the type II cell, displays restricted expression of Fas. We found 1) Fas gene expression in RNA derived from fresh isolates of primary rat type II cells; 2) restriction of Fas expression to a subset of alveolar type II cells by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry of the normal mouse lung; 3) induction of apoptosis in a mouse lung type II epithelial cell line (MLE) after activation of Fas; and 4) induction of apoptosis in a subpopulation of type II cells after the intratracheal instillation of an activating anti-Fas antibody in mice. These findings suggest that Fas-dependent apoptosis is involved in regulating turnover of the alveolar epithelium.