Activation of naive CD8 T cells in vitro in the presence of IL-4 induces type 2 cytokine expression, loss of CD8 expression, and reduced cytolytic potential. This represents a major shift from the canonical phenotype of effector CD8 T cells. It has not been established, however, whether IL-4 can induce comprehensive type 2 cytokine expression by CD8 T cells in vivo, nor whether the effects of IL-4 on type 2 cytokine production by CD8 T cells can be inhibited by IFN-gamma. Furthermore, disparate results have been reported regarding the anti-tumor ability of type 2 polarized effector CD8 T cells, and the effects of IFN-gamma in this respect remain unknown. To address these questions, wild-type or IFN-gamma-deficient OVA-specific CD8(+) T cells were activated in RAG-2(-/-) gamma c(-/-) recipients with control or IL-4-expressing OVA(+) tumor cells, and then transferred to secondary recipients for tumor challenge. Tumor-derived IL-4 induced the expression of type 2 cytokines and the transcription factor GATA-3 by responding CD8 T cells while reducing their CD8 coreceptor expression and ability to eliminate a secondary tumor challenge. Each of these effects of IL-4 was exaggerated in IFN-gamma-deficient, compared with wild-type, CD8 T cells. The results demonstrate that endogenous IFN-gamma counteracts the induction of type 2 cytokines and the downregulation of both CD8 coreceptor levels and the anti-tumor response in CD8 T cells exposed to IL-4 during activation in vivo. These findings may explain the anomalies in the reported functional phenotype of type 2 polarized CD8 T cells.