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Fas ligand (FasL) and its receptor, Fas, play a key role in the regulation of apoptosis within the immune system. Several prior experimental studies of Fas ligand expression in tumors have suggested a mechanism that enables tumors to evade immune destruction by inducing apoptosis in activated lymphocytes near the tumor cells. Many types of carcinomas have been shown to express FasL, but at present nothing is known about the range of sarcomas capable of expressing FasL in vivo. The aim of this study was to determine the in vivo patterns of FasL expression in human sarcomas. Archival paraffin-embedded tissues of 57 sarcomas and 30 carcinomas were analyzed by immunohistochemistry for the expression of FasL. FasL immunoreactivity was seen in 39 of 57 (68%) sarcomas, including 10 of 10 rhabdomyosarcomas, 5 of 5 malignant schwannomas, 2 of 2 Ewing's sarcomas, 8 of 11 malignant fibrous histiocytomas, 4 of 5 angiosarcomas, 2 of 5 synovial sarcomas, 2 of 5 liposarcomas, 3 of 5 leiomyosarcomas, 2 of 6 osteosarcomas, and 1 of 3 chondrosarcomas. All carcinomas tested (10 gastric adenocarcinomas, 10 hepatocellular carcinomas, and 10 renal cell carcinomas) were positive for FasL. These results demonstrate that FasL expression in sarcomas, although less frequent than in carcinomas, is widespread among the sarcoma types, and suggest that FasL might contribute to the immune escape of sarcomas through killing Fas-bearing lymphocytes.