Activated virus-specific CD8 T cells remain in the lung airways for several months after influenza virus infection. We show that maintenance of this cell population is dependent upon the route of infection and prolonged presentation of viral antigen in the draining lymph nodes (DLN) of the respiratory tract. The local effects on T cell migration have been examined. We show retention of virus-specific CD8 T cells in the mediastinal lymph node (MLN) and continuing recruitment of blood-borne migrants into the lung airways during antigen presentation. These data show that antigen that is retained after pulmonary influenza virus infection controls the migratory pattern and activation state of virus-specific CD8 T cells near the site of virus amplification.