CD4 Th cells play critical roles in stimulating Ab production and in generating primary or maintaining memory CTL. The requirement for CD4 help in generating and maintaining CTL responses has been reported to vary depending on the vector or method used for immunization. In this study, we examined the requirement for CD4 T cell help in generating and maintaining CTL responses to an experimental AIDS vaccine vector based on live recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) expressing HIV Env protein. We found that primary CD8 T cell responses and short-term memory to HIV Env and VSV nucleocapsid (VSV N) proteins were largely intact in CD4 T cell-deficient mice. These responses were efficiently recalled at 30 days postinfection by boosting with vaccinia recombinants expressing HIV Env or VSV N. However, by 60 days postinfection, the memory/recall response to VSV N was lost in CD4-deficient mice, while the recall response HIV Env was partially maintained in the same animals for at least 90 days. This result indicates that there are epitope-specific requirements for CD4 help in the maintenance of memory CD8 T cell responses. Our results also suggest that choice of epitopes might be critical in an AIDS vaccine designed to protect against disease in the context of reduced or declining CD4 T cell help.