We describe a new surrogate assay for CD8 + T lymphocyte activity that has the capability of discriminating between cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activity and cytokine-mediated suppressive activity. We applied this approach to two groups of Macaca nemestrina vaccinated with a minimally pathogenic strain of human immunodeficiency virus type 2 [HIV-2 (HIV-2(KR))] as a model of an attenuated virus vaccine. Group 1 was then inoculated with a non-infectious stock of a pathogenic strain, HIV-2287. Both groups 1 and 2 were subsequently challenged with an infectious stock of HIV-2287. Five out of six group 1 animals were protected against CD4 decline, whereas three out of six animals in group 2 were protected. Analysis of CTL responses demonstrated strong activity against HIV-2(KR)-Gag in group 1. It was determined that strong CTL responses correlate with antigen-specific T-helper (Th) type 1 responses. This antigen-specific cytokine assay has the potential to better elucidate the functional mechanisms of CD8 + T-cell-mediated protection than traditional methods to date.