The aim of this study was to determine whether increased apoptosis in peripheral blood lymphocytes plays a role in T cell deficiency associated with DiGeorge anomaly. T cell subsets from a patient with DiGeorge anomaly were examined for the expression of Fas, FasL, Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL at the protein level with monoclonal antibodies, using dual-colour flow cytometry, and at the mRNA level in mononuclear cells by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. In vitro spontaneous apoptosis was examined by propidium iodide staining and DNA fragmentation, using flow cytometry and gel electrophoresis, respectively. Fas and FasL expression, both at the level of protein and of mRNA, was increased, whereas Bcl-2 expression was decreased both at the level of protein and of mRNA. However, no difference in Bcl-XL expression was observed between the patient and an age-matched control. A significant proportion of both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from the patients underwent spontaneous apoptosis, whereas almost no spontaneous apoptosis was observed in the age-matched control. These data suggest that spontaneous apoptosis in T lymphocytes, at least in part, may be responsible for T cell deficiency in DiGeorge anomaly.