The thymus is the main producer of alphabeta T cells and is, therefore, crucial for a normal immune system. The intrathymic developmental pathway of human alphabeta T cells has now been delineated. The production of new T cells by the thymus decreases with age, and the thymus was thought to be redundant in adults once the peripheral T-cell pool has been formed early in life. However, recent work has shown that the thymus can function even at an advanced age. Research into the production of T cells in clinical settings that are associated with loss of T cells in the periphery has sparked renewed interest in the function of the human thymus.