The T helper lymphocyte is responsible for orchestrating the appropriate immune response to a wide variety of pathogens. The recognition of the polarized T helper cell subsets Th1 and Th2 has led to an understanding of the role of these cells in coordinating a variety of immune responses, both in responses to pathogens and in autoimmune and allergic disease. Here, we discuss the mechanisms that control lineage commitment to the Th1 phenotype. What has recently emerged is a rich understanding of the cytokines, receptors, signal transduction pathways, and transcription factors involved in Th1 differentiation. Although the picture is still incomplete, the basic pathways leading to Th1 differentiation can now be understood in in vitro and a number of infection and disease models.