CD40 ligand (CD40L)-deficient C57BL/6 mice failed to control intracellular Leishmania donovani visceral infection, indicating that acquired resistance involves CD40-CD40L signaling and costimulation. Conversely, in wild-type C57BL/6 and BALB/c mice with established visceral infection, injection of agonist anti-CD40 monoclonal antibody (MAb) induced killing of ∼60% of parasites within liver macrophages, stimulated gamma interferon (IFN-γ) secretion, and enhanced mononuclear cell recruitment and tissue granuloma formation. Comparable parasite killing was also induced by MAb blockade (inhibition) of cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4) which downregulates separate CD28-B7 T-cell costimulation. Optimal killing triggered by both anti-CD40 and anti-CTLA-4 required endogenous IFN-γ and involved interleukin 12. CD40L−/− mice also failed to respond to antileishmanial chemotherapy (antimony), while in normal animals, anti-CD40 and anti-CTLA-4 synergistically enhanced antimony-associated killing. CD40L-CD40 signaling regulates outcome and response to treatment of experimental visceral leishmaniasis, and MAb targeting of T-cell costimulatory pathways (CD40L-CD40 and CD28-B7) yields macrophage activation and immunotherapeutic and immunochemotherapeutic activity.