Horizontal transmission of cytomegaloviruses (CMV) occurs via prolonged excretion from mucosal surfaces. We used murine CMV (MCMV) infection to investigate the mechanisms of immune control in secretory organs. CD4 T cells were crucial to cease MCMV replication in the salivary gland (SG) via direct secretion of IFNγ that initiated antiviral signaling on non-hematopoietic cells. In contrast, CD4 T cell helper functions for CD8 T cells or B cells were dispensable. Despite SG-resident MCMV-specific CD8 T cells being able to produce IFNγ, the absence of MHC class I molecules on infected acinar glandular epithelial cells due to viral immune evasion, and the paucity of cross-presenting antigen presenting cells (APCs) prevented their local activation. Thus, local activation of MCMV-specific T cells is confined to the CD4 subset due to exclusive presentation of MCMV-derived antigens by MHC class II molecules on bystander APCs, resulting in IFNγ secretion interfering with viral replication in cells of non-hematopoietic origin.