We show that an influenza hemagglutinin-specific CD4+ murine T cell hybridoma (IP-12-7) enters the apoptotic suicide program via the Fas ligand (FasL)/Fas-mediated pathway upon T cell receptor (TCR) stimulation. These cells express Fas and FasL mRNA, cell surface Fas and intracellular FasL, but do not enter apoptosis upon Fas ligation prior to TCR stimulation. TCR stimulation additionally results in protein synthesis-dependent cell surface expression of the preformed FasL. Addition of phorbol dibutyrate (PBu2) alone was sufficient to induce susceptibility to Fas ligation induced apoptosis, while addition of both PBu2 and calcium ionophore A23187 were required to induce FasL cell surface expression. Addition of cyclosporin A completely inhibited TCR-mediated death and FasL cell surface up-regulation, but had no effect on apoptosis induced directly by Fas ligation following TCR stimulation. Inhibitors of protein kinase C (PKC) (Gö 6976 and GF 109203X) completely inhibited TCR-induced susceptibility to Fas ligation, but only partially inhibited TCR-induced cell surface expression of FasL. PKC isoenzymes alpha, beta, delta and zeta were expressed by this cell line and only the alpha and betaI isoforms translocated to the membrane fraction upon TCR stimulation. Our data suggest that in activation-induced T cell apoptosis PKC is involved in pathways that mediate the acquisition of Fas susceptibility, while calcineurin is required for cell surface expression of the preformed FasL.