The local immune response is characterized by an increase in the rate of entry of lymphocytes from the blood into regional lymph nodes and changes in the output of cells in lymph. While significant data are available regarding the role of inflammation-induced vascular adhesion processes in regulating lymphocyte entry into inflamed tissues and lymph nodes, relatively little is known about the molecular processes governing lymphocyte exit into efferent lymph. We have defined a novel role for lymphatic endothelial cells in the regulation of lymphocyte exit during a delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to mycobacterial purified protein derivative (PPD). Soluble, pro-adhesive factors were identified in efferent lymph concomitant with reduced lymphocyte output in lymph, which significantly increased lymphocyte binding to lymphatic endothelial cells. While all lymphocyte subsets were retained, CD4+ T cells appeared less susceptible than others. Among a panel of cytokines in inflammatory lymph plasma, interferon (IFN)-γ alone appeared responsible for this retention. In vitro adhesion assays using physiological levels of IFN-γ confirmed the interaction between recirculating lymphocytes and lymphatic endothelium. These data demonstrate a new level of immune regulation, whereby the exit of recirculating lymphocytes from lymph nodes is selectively and sequentially regulated by cytokines in a manner equally as complex as lymphocyte recruitment.