Restimulation of the T-cell receptor (TCR) in activated T cells induces CD95 (Fas/Apo-1)-mediated activation-induced cell death (AICD). The TCR-proximal mechanisms leading to AICD are elusive. Here we characterize hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1) as a differentially regulated TCR-proximal signaling protein involved in AICD of primary T cells. We show that HPK1 is a functional component of the endogenous IkappaB kinase (IKK) complex and is crucial for TCR-mediated NFkappaB activation. While full-length HPK1 enhances IKKbeta phosphorylation, siRNA-mediated knockdown of HPK1 blunts TCR-mediated NFkappaB activation and increases cell death. We also demonstrate proteolytic processing of HPK1 into HPK1-C, specifically in AICD-sensitive primary T cells. The cleavage product HPK1-C sequesters the inactive IKK complex and suppresses NFkappaB upon TCR restimulation by binding to IKKalpha and IKKbeta. T cells of HPK1-C transgenic mice are sensitized towards TCR-mediated AICD. Consequently, preventing HPK1-C generation in primary T cells by siRNA-mediated knockdown results in decreased AICD. Thus, these results show a novel mechanism of sensitization of T lymphocytes towards AICD by suppression of NFkappaB, and propose that HPK1 is a life/death switch in T lymphocytes.