CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes are critical components of immunity against infectious pathogens, tumours, and in the case of pathogenic autoimmunity, normal self tissues. CD4(+) T (T(H)) cells provide 'help' to CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes during priming by first activating antigen-presenting cells via CD40-CD40L interactions. Here we show that, after immunization with either a noninflammatory, nonreplicating antigen or an overtly inflammatory replicating antigen, CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes prevented from receiving a signal through CD27 during priming subsequently exhibit a specific defect in their capacity for secondary expansion that can be rescued by the absence of TRAIL. Thus, the 'help message' is transmitted to CD8(+) T cells via CD70-CD27 signals, enabling them to undergo secondary expansion and avoid TRAIL-mediated apoptosis on re-stimulation. These findings complete our understanding of the cellular interactions through which T(H) is provided to CD8(+) cytotoxic T lymphocytes during priming.