Clearance of the neurotropic JHM strain of mouse hepatitis virus from the central nervous system was examined by the transfer of spleen cells from immunized donors. A T cell with the surface phenotype of Thy1.2+ CD4+ CD8- asialo-GM1+ Mac-1- was found to be necessary for viral clearance. The surface phenotype and adherence to nylon wool suggest that these cells are activated helper-inducer T cells. Adoptive transfer to congenic histocompatibility strains demonstrated the necessity for compatibility at the D locus of the major histocompatibility complex. The expression of the CD4 surface marker and the requirement for major histocompatibility complex class I were further studied by the transfer of cells to recipients treated with anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 monoclonal antibodies. Treatment of recipients with either the anti-CD8 or the anti-CD4 antibodies inhibited virus clearance from the central nervous system. This suggests that the CD4+ cell acts as a helper and that virus is cleared from the central nervous system. This suggests that the CD4+ cell acts as a helper and that virus is cleared from the central nervous system by CD8+ cells that recognize viral antigen in the context of the H-2Db gene product.