When naive T lymphocytes are activated and differentiate into memory/effector cells, they down-regulate receptors for constitutive chemokines such as CXCR4 and CCR7 and acquire receptors for inflammatory chemokines such as CCR3, CCR5 and CXCR3, depending on the Th1/Th2 polarization. This switch in chemokine receptor usage leads to the acquisition of the capacity to migrate into inflamed tissues. Using RNase protection assays, staining with specific antibodies, and response to recombinant chemokines, we now show that following TCR stimulation, memory/effector T cells undergo a further and transient switch in receptor expression. CCR1, CCR2, CCR3, CCR5, CCR6 and CXCR3 are down-regulated within 6 h, while CCR7, CCR4, CCR8 and CXCR5 are up-regulated for 2 to 3 days. Up-regulation of CCR7 following TCR stimulation was observed also among resting peripheral blood T cells and required neither co-stimulation nor exogenous IL-2. On the other hand IL-2 down-regulated CXCR5, up-regulated CCR8 and facilitated the recovery of CCR3 and CCR5. Upon TCR stimulation, Th1 and Th2 cells produced comparable sets of chemokines, including RANTES, macrophage inflammatory protein-1beta, I-309, IL-8 and macrophage-derived chemokine, which may modulate surface chemokine receptors and contribute to cell recruitment at sites of antigenic recognition. Altogether these results show that following TCR stimulation effector/memory T cells transiently acquire responsiveness to constitutive chemokines. As a result, T cells that are activated in tissues may either recirculate to draining lymph nodes or migrate to nearby sites of organized ectopic lymphoid tissues.