We investigated the cellular and molecular immunoregulatory actions of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) of relevance to viral disease pathogenesis and antiviral responses. To test the hypothesis that CLA ameliorates viral disease, we developed a viral challenge model by infecting pigs with type-2 porcine circovirus (PCV2). After 42 d of dietary supplementation with either soybean oil (n = 16) or CLA (n = 16), half of the pigs in each group were challenged with PCV2. We examined the effect of CLA on the development of lesions (i.e., lymphoid depletion and pneumonia) and observed the kinetics of the immune responses against PCV2. The viral infection depleted immature B cells (IgM+SWC3+) and favored proapoptotic mRNA expression profiles [i.e., suppressed B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-xl (Bcl-xl) and stimulated Bcl-2 homologous antagonist/killer (Bak)] in the external inguinal lymph nodes. B-cell depletion was more accentuated in pigs fed the control diet, whereas interleukin (IL)-2 mRNA expression was downregulated. Histopathological examination of the lungs revealed that the interstitial pneumonia tended to be more severe in infected pigs fed the control diet, which were also affected by growth retardation. CD8+ T cells were the primary cellular targets of CLA action in peripheral blood (CD8+CD29low and CD8+CD45RC+) and thymus (CD8+ and CD4+CD8+). CLA interacted with PCV2 to increase the proliferation of CD8+ T cells and to suppress PCV2-specific interferon (IFN)-gamma production in CD4+ T cells. At the molecular level, these cellular immunoregulatory properties were associated with differential patterns of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (alpha and gamma) mRNA expression between diets in virally infected pigs.