Fas ligand (FasL) has been shown to be processed by the action of certain metalloproteinase and released from the cell surface. However, it is unclear whether death of Fas-sensitive target cells is mediated by a membrane-bound form of FasL (mFasL) or by a soluble form of FasL (sFasL). In the present study, we demonstrated that JCaM, a p56lck-deficient mutant of Jurkat, underwent Fas-dependent apoptosis only upon physical contact with anti-CD3-stimulated Jurkat cells or with human FasL- expressing transfectant (hFas/L5178Y). Recombinant FasL or sFasL-containing supernatant failed to induce apoptosis in both Jurkat and JCaM. Moreover, addition of a metalloproteinase inhibitor, which led to the accumulation of mFasL in hFas/L5178Y, was found to augment apoptosis in both Jurkat and JCaM. These findings indicate that, in a physiologic setting represented by the activation-induced cell death in Jurkat T cells, cell-cell contact appears to be required for the induction of Fas-mediated killing.