In order to elucidate the role of T cell subsets in protective immunity against infection with high virulent and low virulent strains of Toxoplasma gondii, monoclonal antibodies specific for T cell subsets were injected into mice before immunization or challenge infection. Treatment of mice with monoclonal antibody to either L3T4+ or Lyt-2+ T cells before they were immunized with Toxoplasma cell homogenate prepared from high virulent RH strain tachyzoites markedly reduced survival after mice were challenged with low virulent bradyzoites of the Beverley strain. Thus, induction of protective immunity against bradyzoites of the Beverley strain requires the presence of both L3T4+ and Lyt-2+ T cells. In contrast, mice injected with living bradyzoites of the low virulent Beverley strain after immunization with Toxoplasma cell homogenate acquired protective immunity against high virulent tachyzoites of the RH strain. Lyt-2+ T cells alone appear to be final effector cells for protection against the challenge with high virulent RH strain tachyzoites, since treatment of the bradyzoite-immune mice with anti-Lyt-2 antibody, but not anti-L3T4 antibody, before challenge significantly increased mortality.