T cells that are intrathymically lineage committed are believed to maintain their CD4 or CD8 co-receptor expression. Here, we investigated whether intrathymic lineage commitment involves irreversible genetic modification or whether co-receptor expression can be reprogrammed depending on external stimuli. The CD4(+) T(h)1 clone 2D6 established from splenic T cells as an IL-12-dependent line survived in culture with IL-2, IL-7 or IL-15 alone. Surprisingly, CD8 expression occurred in 2D6 cells upon replacement of IL-12 with any one of the three cytokines that stimulate the common cytokine receptor gamma chain, yielding CD4(+)CD8(+) 2D6 cells. CD8 expression declined when IL-2 was replaced with IL-12 and CD8 induction was inhibited when IL-12 was included in IL-2 or IL-7 culture. Our observations show that even a lineage-committed mature T cell can be reprogrammed for co-receptor expression in response to particular external stimuli.