Activation-induced cell death (AICD) is initiated by the TCR-dependent up-regulation of Fas ligand (FasL) mRNA. The subsequently generated soluble or cell-associated FasL gene products bind Fas, leading to apoptosis of the T cells. Although TCR stimulation is essential to initiate AICD, little is known about which TCR-initiated second messengers are required for FasL expression. We provide evidence in this work that T cells lacking the tyrosine kinase ZAP-70 are unable to up-regulate FasL and undergo AICD. Transfection of wild-type ZAP-70 into the ZAP-70-deficient T cells restores their sensitivity to TCR-induced apoptosis, whereas transfection of catalytically inactive ZAP-70 does not. These results provide clear evidence that ZAP-70 tyrosine kinase is essential in up-regulating FasL for TCR-induced apoptosis.