To study the role of Fas–Fas ligand (FasL) interaction-mediated apoptosis in lymphocyte homeostasis, we generated a mutant fas allele allowing conditional inactivation of the fas gene through Cre-mediated recombination. Experiments in which Fas was ablated in T cells, B cells, T and B cells, or in a more generalized manner demonstrated that the development of lymphoproliferative disease as seen in Fas-deficient mice requires Fas ablation in lymphoid and nonlymphoid tissues. Selective inactivation of Fas in T cells led to a severe lymphopenia over time, accompanied by up-regulation of FasL on activated T cells and apoptosis of peripheral lymphocytes. In addition, the mutant animals developed a fatal wasting syndrome caused by massive leukocyte infiltration in the lungs together with increased inflammatory cytokine production and pulmonary fibrosis. Inhibition of Fas–FasL interaction in vivo completely prevented the loss of lymphocytes and initial lymphocyte infiltration in the lungs. Thus, FasL-mediated interaction of activated, Fas-deficient T cells with Fas-expressing cells in their environment leads to break down of lymphocyte homeostasis and development of a lung disease strikingly resembling idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in humans, a common and severe disease for which the mutant mice may serve as a first animal model.