Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a malignant myeloproliferative disease with a characteristic chronic phase (cp) of several years before progression to blast crisis (bc). The immune system may contribute to disease control in CML. We analyzed leukemia-specific immune responses in cpCML and bcCML in a retroviral-induced murine CML model. In the presence of cpCML and bcCML expressing the glycoprotein of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus as a model leukemia antigen, leukemia-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) became exhausted. They maintained only limited cytotoxic activity, and did not produce interferon-gamma or tumor necrosis factor-alpha or expand after restimulation. CML-specific CTLs were characterized by high expression of programmed death 1 (PD-1), whereas CML cells expressed PD-ligand 1 (PD-L1). Blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction by generating bcCML in PD-1-deficient mice or by repetitive administration of alphaPD-L1 antibody prolonged survival. In addition, we found that PD-1 is up-regulated on CD8(+) T cells from CML patients. Taken together, our results suggest that blocking the PD-1/PD-L1 interaction may restore the function of CML-specific CTLs and may represent a novel therapeutic approach for CML.