Fas ligand (FasL) triggers apoptosis of Fas-positive cells, and previous reports described FasL-induced cell death of Fas-positive photoreceptors following a retinal detachment. However, as FasL exists in membrane-bound (mFasL) and soluble (sFasL) forms, and is expressed on resident microglia and infiltrating monocyte/macrophages, the current study examined the relative contribution of mFasL and sFasL to photoreceptor cell death after induction of experimental retinal detachment in wild-type, knockout (FasL-/-), and mFasL-only knock-in (ΔCS) mice. Retinal detachment in FasL-/- mice resulted in a significant reduction of photoreceptor cell death. In contrast, ΔCS mice displayed significantly more apoptotic photoreceptor cell death. Photoreceptor loss in ΔCS mice was inhibited by a subretinal injection of recombinant sFasL. Thus, Fas/FasL-triggered cell death accounts for a significant amount of photoreceptor cell loss following the retinal detachment. The function of FasL was dependent upon the form of FasL expressed: mFasL triggered photoreceptor cell death, whereas sFasL protected the retina, indicating that enzyme-mediated cleavage of FasL determines, in part, the extent of vision loss following the retinal detachment. Moreover, it also indicates that treatment with sFasL could significantly reduce photoreceptor cell loss in patients with retinal detachment.