Recent reports have demonstrated immune activation in dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) by cytokine and soluble receptor detection in blood. The goal of this study was to determine which cell types are activated and likely to be responsible for cytokine production. Whole blood specimens from 51 Thai children presenting within 72 h of fever onset and with detectable plasma dengue viral RNA were studied by flow cytometry. Absolute CD4 T cell, CD8 T cell, NK cell, and gammadelta T cell counts were decreased in children with DHF compared with those with dengue fever (DF) early in the course of illness. The percent of cells expressing CD69 was increased on CD8 T cells and NK cells in children who developed DHF more than in those with DF. These data directly demonstrate that cellular immune activation is present early in acute dengue and is related to disease severity.