CD4 T cell responses are crucial to prevent and control viral infection; however, virus-specific CD4 T cell activity is considered to be rapidly lost during many persistent viral infections. This is largely caused by the fact that during viral persistence CD4 T cells do not produce the classical Th1 cytokines associated with control of acute viral infections. Considering that CD4 T cell help is critical for both CD8 T cell and B cell functions, it is unclear how CD4 T cells can lose responsiveness but continue to sustain long-term control of persistent viral replication. We now demonstrate that CD4 T cell function is not extinguished as a result of viral persistence. Instead, viral persistence and prolonged T cell receptor stimulation progressively redirects CD4 T cell development away from the Th1 response induced during an acute infection toward T follicular helper cells. Importantly, this sustained CD4 T cell functionality is critical to maintain immunity and ultimately aid in the control of persistent viral infection.