CD8 T cells respond to viral infections but also participate in defense against bacterial and protozoal infections. In the last few years, as new methods to accurately quantify and characterize pathogen-specific CD8 T cells have become available, our understanding of in vivo T cell responses has increased dramatically. Pathogen-specific T cells, once thought to be quite rare following infection, are now known to be present at very high frequencies, particularly in peripheral, nonlymphoid tissues. With the ability to visualize in vivo CD8 T cell responses has come the recognition that T cell expansion is programmed and, to a great extent, independent of antigen concentrations. Comparison of CD8 T cell responses to different pathogens also highlights the intricate relationship between microbially induced innate inflammatory responses and the kinetics, magnitude, and character of long-term T cell responses. This review describes recent progress in some of the major murine models of CD8 T cell-mediated immunity to viral, bacterial, and protozoal infection.