In this study, we investigated whether B cells play a role in the induction and maintenance of CD8 T cell memory after immunization with an intracellular bacterium, Listeria monocytogenes. Our results show that B cells play a minimal role in the initial activation and Ag-driven expansion of CD8 T lymphocytes. However, absence of B cells results in increased death of activated CD8 T cells during the contraction phase, leading to a lower level of Ag-specific CD8 T cell memory. Once memory is established, B cells are no longer required for the long-term maintenance and rapid recall response of memory CD8 T cells. Increased contraction of Ag-specific CD8 T cells in B cell-deficient mice is not due to impaired CD4 T cell responses since priming of epitope-specific CD4 T cell responses is normal in B cell-deficient mice following L. monocytogenes infection. Furthermore, no exaggerated contraction of Ag-specific CD8 T cells is evident in CD4 knockout mice. Thus, B cells play a specific role in modulating the contraction of CD8 T cell responses following immunization. Elucidation of factors that regulate the death phase may allow us to manipulate this process to increase the level of immunological memory and thus, vaccine efficacy.