B cells can influence T cell responses by directly presenting Ag or by secreting Ab that binds to Ag to form immunogenic complexes. Conflicting evidence suggests that persisting Ag-Ab complexes propagate long-term T cell memory; yet, other data indicate that memory cells can survive without specific Ag or MHC. In this study, the roles of B cells and Ag-Ab complexes in T cell responses to lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection were investigated using B cell-deficient or B cell-competent mice. Despite normal lymphocyte expansion after acute infection, B cell-deficient mice rapidly lost CD4(+) T cell memory, but not CD8(+) T cell memory, during the contraction phase. To determine whether Ag-Ab complexes sustain CD4(+) T cell memory, T cell responses were followed in B cell-transgenic (mIg-Tg) mice that have B cells but neither LCMV-specific Ab nor LCMV-immune complex deposition. In contrast to B cell-deficient mice, mIg-Tg mice retained functional Th cell memory, indicating that B cells selectively preserve CD4(+) T cell memory independently of immune complex formation. An in vivo consequence of losing CD4(+) T cell memory was that B cell-deficient mice were unable to resolve chronic virus infection. These data implicate a B cell function other than Ab production that induces long-term protective immunity.