Memory-phenotype (CD44(hi)) T cells are presumed to represent the long-lived progeny of T cells responding to various environmental antigens. For CD8+ T cells, the background rate of proliferation (turnover) of memory-phenotype cells is increased following exposure to infectious agents. This increase in turnover is controlled by interferons (IFN-I and IFN-gamma) and is mediated by IL-15. Unlike IFNs, IL-15 is directly stimulatory for CD44(hi) CD8+ cells. In addition to controlling proliferation of these cells, IL-15 may also play a vital role in keeping CD44(hi) CD8+ cells alive.