Members of the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) family induce pleiotropic biological responses, including cell growth, differentiation, and even death. Here we describe a novel member of the TNF family, designated BAFF (for B cell activating factor belonging to the TNF family), which is expressed by T cells and dendritic cells. Human BAFF was mapped to chromosome 13q32-34. Membrane-bound BAFF was processed and secreted through the action of a protease whose specificity matches that of the furin family of proprotein convertases. The expression of BAFF receptor appeared to be restricted to B cells. Both membrane-bound and soluble BAFF induced proliferation of anti-immunoglobulin M-stimulated peripheral blood B lymphocytes. Moreover, increased amounts of immunoglobulins were found in supernatants of germinal center-like B cells costimulated with BAFF. These results suggest that BAFF plays an important role as costimulator of B cell proliferation and function.