Members of the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) receptor family exert pleiotropic effects and can trigger both apoptosis and proliferation . In their cytoplasmic region, some of these receptors share a conserved sequence motif - the 'death domain' - which is required for transduction of the apoptotic signal by recruiting other death-domain-containing adaptor molecules like the Fas-associated protein FADD/MORT1 or the TNF receptor-associated protein TRADD [2-4]. FADD links the receptor signal to the activation of the caspase family of cysteine proteases [5,6]. Functional inactivation of individual receptor family members often fails to exhibit a distinctive phenotype, probably because of redundancy [7-9]. To circumvent this problem, we used a dominant-negative mutant of FADD (FADD-DN) which should block all TNF receptor family members that use FADD as an adaptor. We established transgenic mice expressing FADD-DN under the influence of the lck promoter and investigated the consequences of its expression in T cells. As expected, FADD-DN thymocytes were protected from death induced by CD95 (Fas/Apo1), whereas apoptosis induced by ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, anti-CD3 antibody treatment or dexamethasone was unaffected, as was spontaneous cell death. Surprisingly, however, we also observed profound inhibition of thymocyte proliferation in vivo and of activation-induced proliferation of thymocytes and mature T cells in vitro. This inhibition of proliferation was not due to increased cell death and appeared to be p53 dependent.