Human CMV (HCMV) is an important pathogen that causes widespread diseases in immunocompromised individuals. Among the opportunistic HCMV infections, HCMV retinitis is most common in transplant recipients and AIDS patients. It often leads to blindness if left untreated. The question as to how HCMV infection causes retinal pathogenesis remains unresolved. Here, we report that viral immediate-early gene product 2 (IE2), but not IE1, up-regulates the Fas ligand (FasL) expression in HCMVinfected human retinal pigment epithelium cells. Increased secretion of FasL from virally infected cells into cultured medium was observed upon HCMV infection. The capability of such cell-free medium to induce apoptosis of Fas (CD95)-expressing Jurkat cells further implies that Fas-FasL interaction might mediate cell death in the lesion of HCMV retinitis. To support this idea, we observed augmented soluble FasL levels in vitreous from AIDS patients with HCMV retinitis as compared with that from AIDS patients without HCMV infection. In addition, by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, we detected enhanced signals of FasL, the existence of viral IE Ags and apoptotic cells at the same sites in the lesion of HCMV-infected retina. These results strongly suggest that IE2 induction of FasL expression in human retina might be an important event that takes place in the early stage of infection and finally leads to visual loss in individuals affiliated with HCMV retinitis.