We have previously shown that IsdB, a conserved protein expressed by Staphylococcus aureus, induces a robust antibody response which correlates with protection in a murine challenge model. Here we investigate the role of cellular immunity in IsdB mediated protection using lymphocyte deficient SCID mice. As opposed to WT CB-17 mice the CB-17 SCID mice were not protected against a lethal challenge of S. aureus after active and passive immunizations with IsdB. Adoptive transfer of in vitro isolated lymphocyte subsets revealed that reconstituting mice with IsdB specific CD3+ or CD4+ T-cells conferred antigen specific protection while CD8(+) T-cells, CD19(+) B-cells and plasma cells (CD138(high)B220(int)CD19(lo)) alone were not protective. A combination of CD3(+) T-cells plus CD19(+) B-cells conferred protection in CB-17 SCID mice, whereas bovine serum albumin (BSA) immune lymphocytes did not confer protection. Active immunization experiments indicated that IsdB immunized Jh mice (B-cell deficient) were protected against lethal challenge, while nude (T-cell deficient) mice were not. In vitro assays indicated that isolated IsdB specific splenocytes from immunized mice produced abundant IL-17A, much less IFN-γ and no detectable IL-4. IL-23 deficient mice were not protected from a lethal challenge by IsdB vaccination, pointing to a critical role for CD4(+) Th17 in IsdB-mediated vaccination. Neutralizing IL-17A, but not IL-22 in vivo significantly increased mortality in IsdB immunized mice; whereas, neutralizing IFN-γ did not alter IsdB-mediated protection. These findings suggest that IL-17A producing Th17 cells play an essential role in IsdB vaccine-mediated defense against invasive S. aureus infection in mice.