T lymphocytes circulate in a quiescent state until they encounter cognate antigen bound to the surface of an antigen-presenting cell. The molecular pathways that regulate T cell quiescence remain largely unknown. Here we show that forced expression of the lung Krüppel-like transcription factor (LKLF) in Jurkat T cells is sufficient to program a quiescent phenotype characterized by decreased proliferation, reduced cell size and protein synthesis and decreased surface expression of activation markers. Conversely, LKLF-deficient peripheral T cells produced by gene targeting showed increased proliferation, increased cell size and enhanced expression of surface activation markers in vivo. LKLF appeared to function, at least in part, by decreasing expression of the proto-oncogene encoding c-Myc. Forced expression of LKLF was associated with markedly decreased c-Myc expression. In addition, many effects of LKLF expression were mimicked by expression of the dominant-negative MadMyc protein and rescued by overexpression of c-Myc. Thus, LKLF is both necessary and sufficient to program quiescence in T cells and functions, in part, by negatively regulating a c-Myc--dependent pathway.