In this study we characterized the expression of Fas and Fas ligand in different types of meningiomas and examined the effect of Fas ligation on the death of meningioma cells in culture. Using Western blot analysis, we found that extracts derived from anaplastic and atypical meningiomas expressed high levels of Fas, whereas benign meningiomas did not express detectable levels of this protein. All of the meningiomas examined expressed low levels of Fas ligand. Cultures of anaplastic meningiomas also expressed Fas and treatment of these cells with anti-Fas antibody induced cell death. The results of this study indicate that Fas is preferentially expressed in atypical and anaplastic meningiomas and suggest that it is involved in the increased apoptosis observed in these tumors.