Infection of female BALB/c mice with encephalomyocarditis virus results in the development of a paralytic syndrome in 7 to 10 days postinoculation. Previous studies had suggested the involvement of an immune component in the development of central nervous system pathology. We have examined the effects of T-cell depletion on the development of polioencephalitis (neuronal necrosis and inflammation of the brain and brain stem) and the relative contribution of the CD4+ and CD8+ subsets following the establishment of viremia. We show that monoclonal antibody depletion of T cells is effective in the reduction of polioencephalitis when given prior to viral inoculation. However, administration of the antibodies 12 h or more after viral inoculation failed to alter the development of polioencephalitis or encephalomyelitis. We conclude that T cells are involved in the development of central nervous system disease during the initial stages of infection but are not responsible for the later progression of disease.