The insulin receptor substrate (IRS) family of signaling molecules is expressed in lymphocytes, although their functions in these cells is largely unknown. To investigate the role of IRS in the protection of T cells from activation-induced cell death (AICD), we transfected the T cell hybridoma A1.1, which is IL-4 responsive but lacks expression of IRS family members with cDNA encoding IRS1 or IRS2. Stimulation of these clones with immobilized anti-CD3-induced expression of CD69 to the same level as the parental A1.1 cells. However, the A1.1 IRS1-expressing cells were markedly resistant to AICD, while the A1.1 IRS2-expressing cells were not. Inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase in the A1.1 IRS1-expressing cells did not abrogate their resistance to AICD. Fas mRNA was induced similarly by anti-CD3 in A1.1, A1.1 IRS1-expressing, and A1.1 IRS2-expressing cells. However, induction of Fas ligand (FasL) mRNA and functional FasL protein was delayed and decreased in IRS1-expressing cells, but not in IRS2-expressing cells. The induction of transcription from a 500-bp FasL promoter and a minimal 16-mer early growth response element linked to luciferase was also impaired in the IRS1-expressing cells. These results suggest that overexpression of IRS1, but not IRS2, protects A1.1 cells from AICD by diminishing FasL transcription through a pathway that is independent of the tyrosine phosphorylation of IRS1 and phosphatidylinositol 3'-kinase activity.