Interleukin 23 (IL-23) and IL-17 have been linked to the pathogenesis of several chronic inflammatory disorders, including inflammatory bowel disease. Yet as an important function for IL-23 is emerging, the function of IL-17 in inflammatory bowel disease remains unclear. Here we demonstrate IL-17A-mediated protection in the CD45RBhi transfer model of colitis. An accelerated wasting disease elicited by T cells deficient in IL-17A correlated with higher expression of genes encoding T helper type 1-type cytokines in colon tissue. IL-17A also modulated T helper type 1 polarization in vitro. Furthermore, T cells deficient in the IL-17 receptor elicited an accelerated, aggressive wasting disease relative to that elicited by wild-type T cells in recipient mice. Our data demonstrate a protective function for IL-17 and identify T cells as not only the source but also a target of IL-17 in vivo.