The possible role of CD4- and CD8-bearing T lymphocytes in parasite clearance in vivo was investigated, using Plasmodium chabaudi in C57BL/6 mice as a model. Monoclonal antibodies specific for the CD4 and CD8 molecules were administered in vivo to deplete selectively the appropriate subset of T cells. The efficacy of depletion was ascertained by flow cytometry and functional studies. These mice were then infected with P. chabaudi, and the course of infection was followed. The control groups had maximum parasitemias of approximately 30% 10 days after infection, and the infection was cleared within 27 days. Mice without CD4+ cells had significantly higher parasitemias which they were unable to reduce below 20% for the duration of the experiment. Mice without CD8 cells had slightly higher parasitemias which were cleared after 34 days. Because of the possibility that CD8+ cells alone could not be activated in the absence of growth factors, exogenous interleukin-2 was administered to the mice depleted of CD4 cells. This did not significantly affect parasitemias, and the mice were still unable to clear their infections. The data suggest that CD4+ T cells play a crucial role in the protective immune response to the erythrocytic stages of P. chabaudi.