It is demonstrated that methotrexate/cisplatin-sensitive L1210 cells express low levels of major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II relative to the high levels expressed on methotrexate (MTX)/cisplatin-resistant L1210/DDP cells. L1210 cells express cell-surface Fas, while the L1210/DDP cells express no cell-surface Fas. Expression of costimulatory molecules B7-1/B7-2 and Fas is increased on L1210 cells, but not L1210/DDP, in the presence of methotrexate or trimetrexate (TMTX). Therefore, a component of the mechanism of action of some anti-cancer agents may be to facilitate immune recognition and T cell-directed, Fas-induced cell death. Loss of cell-surface Fas expression and failure of Fas (CD95)-dependent apoptotic death has been observed when cells develop drug resistance. The defect in apoptosis can be overcome by anti-cancer agents or experimental manipulation that induce Fas expression on the drug-resistant cells.