The cysteine protease interleukin-1beta converting enzyme (ICE) is implicated as an effector of apoptosis in mammalian cells. Proteolytic activity of ICE can be blocked in vitro by the cytokine response modifier A (crmA), a serpin-like protease inhibitor encoded by cowpox virus. Here we show that CD2 enhancer-driven expression of crmA in T lymphocytes of transgenic mice (CD2-crmA mice) reduces CD95 (Fas/APO-1)-transduced apoptosis in vitro to the level seen in CD95-deficient mutant lpr mice, but does not protect against gamma-radiation or corticosteroid-induced cell death. Unlike lpr mice, CD2-crmA transgenic mice developed neither T cell hyperplasia nor serum autoantibodies. These results provide evidence that the phenotype of lpr mice is not simply due to failure of CD95 to trigger T cell apoptosis mediated by ICE.