An important question in neuropathology involves determining the antigens that are targeted during demyelinating disease. Viral infection of the central nervous system (CNS) leads to T-cell responses that can be protective as well as pathogenic. In the Theiler’s murine encephalomyelitis virus (TMEV) model of demyelination it is known that the immune response to the viral capsid protein 2 (VP2) is critical for disease pathogenesis. This study shows that expressing the whole viral capsid VP2 or the minimal CD8-specific peptide VP2121-130 as “self” leads to a loss of VP2-specific immune responses. Loss of responsiveness is caused by T cell-specific tolerance, as VP2-specific antibodies are generated in response to infection. More importantly, these mice lose the CD8 T-cell response to the immunodominant peptide VP2121-130, which is critical for the development of demyelinating disease. The transgenic mice fail to clear the infection and develop chronic demyelinating disease in the spinal cord white matter. These findings demonstrate that T-cell responses can be removed by transgenic expression and that lack of responsiveness alters viral clearance and CNS pathology. This model will be important for understanding the mechanisms involved in antigen-specific T-cell deletion and the contribution of this response to CNS pathology.