In contrast to naive T cells, reactivation of memory cells is less dependent on CD28-mediated costimulation. We have shown that circulating beryllium-specific CD4(+) T cells from chronic beryllium disease patients remain CD28-dependent, while those present in the lung no longer require CD28 for T cell activation. In the present study, we analyzed whether other costimulatory molecules are essential for beryllium-induced T cell function in the lung. Enhanced proliferation of a beryllium-responsive, HLA-DP2-restricted T cell line was seen after the induction of 4-1BB ligand expression on the surface of HLA-DP2-expressing fibroblasts. Following beryllium exposure, CD4(+) T cells from blood and bronchoalveolar lavage of chronic beryllium disease patients up-regulate 4-1BB expression, and the majority of beryllium-responsive, IFN-gamma-producing CD4(+) T cells in blood coexpress CD28 and 4-1BB. Conversely, a significant fraction of IFN-gamma-producing bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) T cells express 4-1BB in the absence of CD28. In contrast to blood, inhibition of the 4-1BB ligand-4-1BB interaction partially blocked beryllium-induced proliferation of BAL CD4(+) T cells, and a lack of 4-1BB expression on BAL T cells was associated with increased beryllium-induced cell death. Taken together, these findings suggest an important role of 4-1BB in the costimulation of beryllium-responsive CD4(+) T cells in the target organ.