Here we report an unbiased analysis of the cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) serine-threonine phosphoproteome by high-resolution mass spectrometry. We identified approximately 2,000 phosphorylations in CTLs, of which approximately 450 were controlled by T cell antigen receptor (TCR) signaling. A significantly overrepresented group of molecules identified included transcription activators, corepressors and chromatin regulators. A focus on chromatin regulators showed that CTLs had high expression of the histone deacetylase HDAC7 but continually phosphorylated and exported this transcriptional repressor from the nucleus. Dephosphorylation of HDAC7 resulted in its accumulation in the nucleus and suppressed expression of genes encoding key cytokines, cytokine receptors and adhesion molecules that determine CTL function. Screening of the CTL phosphoproteome has thus identified intrinsic pathways of serine-threonine phosphorylation that target chromatin regulators and determine the CTL functional program.