Efficient boosting of memory T-cell numbers to protective levels generally requires a relatively long interval between immunizations. Decreasing this interval could be crucial in biodefense and cancer immunotherapy, in which rapid protective responses are essential. Here, we show that vaccination with peptide-coated dendritic cells (DCs) generated CD8+ T cells with the phenotype and function of memory cells within 4-6 d. These early memory CD8+ T cells underwent vigorous secondary expansion in response to a variety of booster immunizations, leading to elevated numbers of effector and memory T cells and enhanced protective immunity. Coinjection of CpG oligodeoxynucleotides, potent inducers of inflammation that did not alter the duration of DC antigen display, prevented the rapid generation of memory T cells in wild-type mice but not in mice lacking the interferon (IFN)-gamma receptor. These data show that DC vaccination stimulates a pathway of accelerated generation of memory T cells, and suggest that events of inflammation, including the action of IFN-gamma on the responding T cells, control the rate of development of memory CD8+ T cells.