Mice infected intracerebrally with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCM virus) develop a characteristic central nervous system disease and usually die. If the intravenous or intraperitoneal route is used, the infection leads to less severe clinical signs and the virus is eliminated. Illness and virus clearance are immunological phenomena, which are assumed to be caused exclusively by CD8+ T lymphocytes. In contrast, of the two phases of a delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction caused by inoculation of the virus into the mouse's foot, only the first is mediated by CD8+ cells, whereas the second is mediated by CD4+ cells. We have examined LCM virus-specific immune responses in mice devoid of CD8+ T lymphocytes as a result of disruption of the beta 2-microglobulin gene. As expected, the virus persisted but footpad swelling did not occur, although intracerebral infection resulted in CD4+ T-lymphocyte-mediated illness and antiviral antibodies were produced. Different results had been obtained by Fung-Leung et al. (W.-P. Fung-Leung, T. M. Kündig, R. M. Zinkernagel, and T. W. Mak, J. Exp. Med. 174:1425-1429, 1991), who, is essentially identical experiments but with mice lacking CD8+ T lymphocytes as a result of disruption of the Lyt-2-encoding gene, recorded control of the infection and development of a local delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction. We consider these differences important, because they provide us with clues that may help to understand the mode of action of the CD8+ T cells in cell-mediated antiviral immunity.