We studied the coupling of the TCR/CD3 complex to a T cell effector function, namely Fas-based T-cell-mediated cytotoxicity. Encounter or re-encounter with antigen was mimicked by treating 5 d mixed lymphocyte culture cells or T cell hybridomas with anti-CD3 antibody. This TCR/CD3 engagement induced swift expression of Fas-based cytotoxicity in these cells. Induction of Fas-based cytotoxicity was Ca(2+)-dependent, while its execution was not; induction was sensitive to macromolecular synthesis inhibitors, in line with a demonstrable increase of the Fas ligand (Fas-L) message. We also used T cell hybridomas transfected with various constructs to dissect the involvement of distinct components of the TCR/CD3 complex. The cytoplasmic domain of the CD3 zeta chain was able to transduce by itself a signal leading to Fas-L expression, unless there were mutations in its activation receptor homology sequence 1 (ARH-1) motifs. On the one hand, these findings are relevant to signal transduction pathways coupled to the TCR/CD3, and on the other hand, to the involvement of Fas-based T cell-mediated cytotoxicity in various physiological and possibly pathophysiological situations.