4-1BB ligand (L) expressed on antigen presenting cells (APC) interacts with 4-1BB, expressed on activated T cells and this interaction costimulates T cells to secrete cytokines and to proliferate. We investigated whether 4-1BB/4-1BBL interactions might be involved in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD). In immunohistochemistry, we found 4-1BB expression on lamina propria (LP) cells in inflamed and to a lesser extend in non-inflamed gut tissue from CD patients. mRNA levels for 4-1BB were also elevated in intestinal CD tissue. In contrast, only few 4-1BB-expressing cells were found in inflamed tissue from ulcerative colitis (UC) patients and almost no positive cells were found in control intestinal tissue. 4-1BB expression was better sustained on in vitro activated lamina propria T cells from CD patients compared to controls. Finally, agonistic anti-4-1BB antibody enhanced interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production and proliferation of lamina propria T cells from CD patients. Taken together, our data suggest that 4-1BB/4-1BBL interactions contribute to the persistence of gut inflammation in CD.