Memory T cells of the effector type (T(EM)) account for the characteristic rapidity of memory T-cell responses, whereas memory T cells of the central type (T(CM)) account for long-lasting, vigorously proliferating memory T-cell responses. How antigen-stimulated (primed) T cells develop into different memory T-cell subsets with diverse tissue distributions is largely unknown. Here we show that after respiratory tract infection of mice with influenza virus, viral antigen associated with dendritic cells (DCs) was abundant in lung-draining lymph nodes (DLN) and the spleen for more than a week but was scant and transient in nondraining lymph nodes (NDLN). Correspondingly, activated CD8 T cells proliferated extensively in DLN and the spleen but minimally in NDLN. Strikingly, however, although most persisting CD8 T cells in DLN and spleen exhibited the T(EM) phenotype, those persisting in NDLN exhibited the T(CM) phenotype. Reducing antigen exposure by depleting DCs at the peak of primary T-cell responses enhanced the development of T(CM), whereas subjecting primed CD8 T cells from NDLN to additional antigen stimulation inhibited T(CM) development. These findings demonstrate that differences in persistence of antigen-bearing DCs in various tissues regulate the tissue-specific pattern of memory CD8 T-cell development. The findings have significant implications for design of vaccines and immunization strategies.