The Fas/Fas Ligand (FasL) system and survivin have counteracting roles in cell survival. Therefore, we explored the role of circulating soluble Fas (sFas) and the tissue levels of Fas and survivin with regard to response to chemotherapy in lung cancer patients. Serum samples from 52 lung cancer patients and 54 control subjects (19 benign lung disease and 35 healthy control subjects) were collected prior to and 24 and 48 h after chemotherapy. sFas was statistically significantly higher in the cancer group than that in the control groups (p < 0.001). Baseline (before chemotherapy) sFas values showed a statistically significant inverse correlation with overall survival (r = -0.599, p < 0.001). There was a significant increase in serum sFas levels 24 h after treatment (p < 0.05). Contrarily, tissue levels of Fas and survivin were not changed following the chemotherapy (p > 0,05). In conclusion, increased sFas may be an indicator of poor outcome in lung cancer patients. However, cisplatin-based chemotherapy may not be effective via neither the Fas/FasL system nor survivin pathway. Indeed, larger sample size is required for further evaluation. Copyright (C) 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.